NORMAN — Draped in his father’s No. 78 crimson jersey, flanked by two OU football helmets, 3-year-old Jordan Evans posed for a picture. “Following the Tradition,” read the inscription on the frame.
Evans turns 18 on Sunday; on Feb. 6 he plans to sign a letter of intent to play football for the Sooners. The photo proved true.
But it took awhile to get there.
The son of Scott Evans was a late bloomer. Until two years ago, Jordan Evans thought of himself as a basketball player. Until the 2011 Class 6A playoffs, Scott Evans wasn’t sure his son could be a Division I football player. Until two months ago, OU hadn’t offered a scholarship.
And if Virginia Tech had shown interest, Jordan Evans likely would be Blacksburg bound. The son of a Sooner grew up a Hokie fan, drawn to Michael Vick in that wild Sugar Bowl 13 years ago. Jordan’s Christmases over the years have included a steady stream of Virginia Tech gear.
But now Jordan Evans, a strapping 6-foot-3 speedster, who was a linebacker, an occasional wildcat quarterback and big-play kick returner at Norman North, is headed for his dad’s alma mater.
Yep, that Scott Evans.
As good a pick as any as the most underrated Sooner of them all. A three-time all-Big Eight defensive tackle, 1988-90. Lee Roy Selmon didn’t make all-Big Eight three times. Neither did Tony Casillas. But Scott Evans did, and Tommie Harris (2001-03) joined him as OU’s only three-time all-conference defensive tackles.
Evans also is as good a pick as any as the most interesting Sooner I ever interviewed. He was introspective. Able to talk about things outside football. I remember a 1990 chat with Evans about Vietnam. He was completely enthralled with the Vietnam era. Read books, wrote papers, took classes about that period of American history.
Didn’t surprise me at all to learn that Scott Evans has lived in Norman for 20 years, since retiring from football after one NFL season, and has kept a low profile concerning Sooner football. Evans always seemed like the type who wouldn’t live the rest of his life recalling the good old days.
“I don’t want to be in the spotlight,” Scott Evans said. “It was 20 years ago. I don’t go back to the university much. I haven’t been to the games, haven’t really kept up with the O Club or anything.
“When school was done, my job was working, providing for my family. So that’s by design. I’m living life, taking care of my family, and that’s a full-time job.”
But Jordan always knew his dad was a Sooner. Scott’s office at home has OU memorabilia, and Jordan didn’t mind telling his friends about it. “I could say, ‘My dad played for OU,’” Jordan said. “It was cool to say that.”
Father and son aren’t necessarily alike.
“Scott will speak his mind,” said Tenika Evans, Scott’s wife and Jordan’s mother. “Jordan’s more laid back. Kind of reserved.”
Said Scott, “He’s a lot better person than I was at that age. I had some arrogance and a wild side to me that he doesn’t. He’s genuine, caring, unselfish.
“Our similarities are sports, work ethic, determination. Wanting to be as good as you could possibly be. A lot of things I’m glad he doesn’t follow in my footsteps.”
But there are other ways that father and son are not alike.
Bi-racial families are common these days. But the Evanses go counter to convention. Black wife, white husband.
“I’ve got the best of both worlds,” Jordan said.
Scott and Tenika met at OU. Tenika was dating another Sooner, linebacker Frank Blevins. When Scott returned to school after leaving the NFL, he reconnected with Tenika.
“I liked Scott because he knew what he wanted,” Tenika said. “He was smart and intelligent. He stood up for what was right.”
They were married on Jordan’s first birthday — “We did things backward,” Tenika said — and now also have daughters Jacie, 12, and Jessika, 11.
Scott says he never cared what people thought. “You meet who you meet,” he said. “I’ve been blessed. She’s a good woman, a great wife.”
What’s it like to grow up in a bi-racial family? What’s it like to not? “Seems normal,” Jordan said.
Said Scott, “We live in Norman. We’re not driving through Tupelo, Miss. We wouldn’t take a family vacation to southeastern Arkansas. I understand there are people out there. But you gotta live your life. We don’t have any problems.”
Jordan Evans’ addition to the Sooner roster won’t excite the recruiting groupies. Before OU offered a scholarship, Evans’ list of potential schools included New Mexico, Ohio, Memphis, Nevada-Las Vegas, Louisiana-Lafayette and Colorado State.
“A late bloomer, no matter where you’re at, they get missed early,” Scott Evans said.
Jordan was a smallish eighth grader. But he grew about six inches in six months and entered high school almost 6 feet tall.
Jordan still was skinny as a Norman North sophomore. But he started maturing, getting stronger, and after North beat Lawton in the 6A playoffs in November 2011, Scott had a talk with his son.
“I told him, you can play Division I college football,” Scott said. “It took me awhile to see that. It’s going to take college coaches awhile to see that.
“Recruiting is about fits. If they need linebackers, they recruit linebackers. If they don’t, they don’t. He knew going into the year what he was going to have to do on the field.”
Jordan’s senior season, he became a big-play phenom, both defensively and with his kick returns — he returned five for touchdowns. After North’s 49-42 victory over Owasso in the 6A semifinals, OU linebacker coach Tim Kish offered a scholarship.
Jordan attended the Bedlam game on Nov. 24 and was swept up in the atmosphere of OU’s wild 51-48 victory. He went in the Sooners’ postgame locker room and decided his dad’s alma mater was for him.
“I could see the guys had fun,” Jordan said. “I said, ‘This could be me.’”
And so it will be. This son of a Sooner, different in some ways from his father, indeed is following the tradition.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.