WALKER VALLEY FOOTBALL STANDOUT Avery Jones has signed a scholarship to play for the Faulkner University Eagles. Seated, from left, are Gary Jones, father; Avery Jones; Angie Jones, mother; and Meredith Jones, sister. Standing, from left, are Mike Turner, WVHS athletics director; Nat Akiona, WVHS principal; Glen Ryan, Mustangs head coach; and Monty Frazier, WVHS assistant principal. (Banner Photo, Richard Roberts)
The Walker Valley High School list of football Mustangs who have made it to the college level grew by one this week, when Avery Jones announced he will take his skills to Faulkner University.
Jones, who starred for the Mustangs both offensively and defensively, is looking forward to the challenge of playing against high quality opponents either as a running back or defensive back with the Eagles.
His bid to break into the starting lineup won’t be easy, and he knows it. Jones says he understands the skill level in college will be like nothing he has played against and has pondered the difficulties associated playing against all-star athletes on a regular basis.
“I have been thinking about that. It will be nerve racking when I get there and see grown men playing, I’ve played against kids with beards and tattoos and stuff, but when I get there I will be playing with real men.
“It will be very intimidating at times, but I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully catch up to them,” said Jones, who plans to study Bible or physical education while at the Montgomery, Ala., school.
“It’s all through hard work. They didn’t get where they are just by sitting around. They worked to get their spot. It’s all about work ethic really. If you’re willing to put in the work then you belong there. Thankfully, the school looked at me and felt I have an opportunity. I don’t want to let them down and I don’t want to let my parents down. I want to be the best I can be there.”
Jones’ choice came after careful consideration and contemplation concerning location and campus undercurrent. He pondered ETSU, Austin Peay, Shorter University, Berry College and even took a peek at Vanderbilt before making a decision.
“I liked the atmosphere at Faulkner. I’ve been to a few football camps there, and it’s a Church of Christ school. I had a few other schools in mind. I got offers from a few other places, but they were too far away. I didn’t want to go too far, and this college is only about four hours away,” he said.
“But Faulkner was my main choice and I am very happy with it, mainly because it is a Church of Christ school and it has a great atmosphere. You don’t have to worry about it as much as you do other colleges.
“You have a very good atmosphere around people who share your same religion, so you don’t have to worry about that. They have a church on campus I can attend every Sunday. It’s a good place to be around.”
Mustangs coach Glen Ryan said Jones paid his dues while at Walker Valley, and has no doubt he will help the Eagles win football games.
“They are getting a great kid. Avery is a very likeable young man and a hard worker. He busted his butt for us. He did everything we asked him to do. He took a back seat, sometimes, because we had underclassmen that had a hot hand. But he never griped or complained about it. He just came out and worked hard every day and made everybody around him better,” said Ryan.
“He’s got plenty of ability and plenty of skills. He’s going to do a great job down there. I think he can break in the lineup pretty quick. He’s one of those kind of guys that highly excels when he has a challenge in front of him, when he is pushed.
“I think that helps motivate him and makes him work even harder. I feel really good about his chances down there. I fee like they are getting a great young man who can bring a lot to the table for them.”
Jones will have the chance to break into the starting lineup as a varsity player since Faulkner dropped its junior varsity program and is going with a full schedule of varsity games. He said he is looking forward to helping maintain the quality enjoyed by the Eagles.
“They were a very good football team last year in the NAIA. They had the No. 1 offense in the nation. They just got rid of their junior varsity team and will be strictly a varsity team this year. Hopefully, I’ll get a spot on it,” he said.