Four Ada Cougar seniors signed letters of intent to continue their football careers at the collegiate level during a ceremony Wednesday morning at the Ada High student center.
Jakob Smalley is staying close to home and will join new head coach Al Johnson at East Central University Kylen Cooper and Christian Maloy will take their talents to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, and Jackson McFarlane signed on the dotted line for Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee.
That fantastic foursome helped lead the Cougars to a runner-up finish in Class 4A during the 2017 season.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work,” said Ada head coach Chris Berus. “Obviously we accomplished a lot as a team, but it was because of the individual work that these guys put in that gave themselves the opportunity to go play at the next level.”
Berus said he’s anxious to see what the future holds for the Ada signees.
“These are my guys. It’s a joyous time for me to see that they have a chance to go play a game they love very, very much. I’m very proud of these young men,” he said. “I’m excited about their future. I’m excited they’re going to be representing the block A and those other programs, and I’m looking forward to seeing their future successes.”
The Ada coach said signing days close one chapter of Ada football and begin the next one.
“This signifies the end of that great 2017 season. This is the exclamation point. We had a lot of great memories ,a lot of great achievements,” he said. “Now that this day has come, all of our efforts are now going to be geared toward what’s next and how the 2018 season is going to shape up.”
Smalley will play defensive end for ECU but was a valuable two-way player for Berus and the Ada Cougars.
On defense, Smalley finished with 50 tackles, four hurries and a quarterback sack during his senior campaign.
“I’m excited that Jakob has joined the Tiger family and decided to stay home to continue his academic and athletic career. He follows a long and rich tradition of Ada High Cougars to do so.” said Johnson. “It’s a tradition we at East Central plan to continue and grow in the future.”
Smalley was one of 22 football signees ECU announced Wednesday.
“I look forward to seeing Jakob grow as a student-athlete here at East Central University,” Johnson said.
Smalley said he looks forward to playing football close to home.
“It’s really exciting. I can’t express how excited I am about this. I’m really glad I’m going to be able to compete at the next level,” he said.
Cooper will play corner for the Bronchos. During a sensational senior season, he recorded eight interceptions and had 33 tackles for the Cougars.
“I’m just too happy to be here. I’m blessed. I give God all the glory. I’m happy to be able to sign with a school I’m so interested in and go there with a friend of mine,” Cooper said. “I get to play with a team that has done great things the past few years.”
Cooper said after discussions with family and friends, UCO seemed like the right college destination.
“I did a lot of talking with my family as far as what would be best for me for the next four years, and I feel like this (UCO) is the best school for me,” he said.
Maloy will join Cooper on the defensive side of the ball at UCO as a linebacker. He was a defensive force for Ada High during the 2017 campaign, finishing with 79 tackles, nine sacks and a fumble recovery.
“I’m overwhelmed. I’m super excited to be able to continue playing football while getting my education,” he said. “Kylen and I have played together since we were in elementary school. Him going there was another positive thing. It just seems like a great place to be.”
McFarlane was an All-State quarterback for Ada in 2017. He completed 161-of-280 passes for 2,121 yards with 21 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. He also rushed for 1,091 yards and 15 TDs.
A number of schools courted McFarlane during the recruiting process, but once he got on the Shawnee campus, he fell in love with OBU.
“It wasn’t much of a choice. As soon as I got on campus, I knew. Before we even started our tour, I told my mom this is where I want to be,” he explained. “The day I got home from my visit, I called the coach and told him I had made my decision.”
OBU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Grant Gower wasn’t bothered by McFarlane’s 5-9 frame, and he liked what he saw of the Cougar signal-caller on film.
“Coach Gower was straight up with me. He told me he wasn’t afraid of my size and said he knew I was a competitor and a leader. That reassured me that this was the decision I wanted to make,” McFarlane said.