Thursday, April 12, 2012
Kellen Jones reportedly Clemson-bound
By Matt Fortuna
Former Oklahoma linebacker Kellen Jones will transfer to Clemson, according to PalmettoSports.com.
Jones notched 10 tackles last season with the Sooners under defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who was hired for the same position by the Tigers this season.
A three-star prospect coming out of St. Pius X (Houston) in 2011, Jones originally signed with Michigan last February before enrolling at Oklahoma in August. He saw action in 12 games with the Sooners as a true freshman.
Jones, who said the new transfer was not based on Venables' move to Clemson, will have to sit out this season but has three years of eligibility remaining, beginning in 2013.
"It was a family connection," Jones told PalmettoSports.com. "I liked the tradition, the atmosphere and the coaches."
Venables, meanwhile, is listed by colleague Travis Haney as one of the nation's five key coordinator hires for the upcoming season, as he replaces Kevin Steele.
Those familiar with Clemson have said Steele likely would not have been retained, even before the Orange Bowl debacle -- but giving up 70 points to West Virginia sealed the deal. Steele and Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney clashed over Chad Morris' new uptempo offense and how it affected the defense's stamina. Less time on the field for the offense means more time for the defense. Steele was not a fan.
That made Venables a perfect fit to replace him, since he had been working in concert with a fast-paced offense at Oklahoma since teaming up with Bob Stoops -- and then-coordinator Mike Leach -- in 1999.
Venables has talked this spring about a desire to return to fundamentals, sensing that basics, such as tackling, were lacking at Clemson. He has a young unit -- 13 freshmen or sophomores were on the two-deep, as of the middle of spring ball -- but one with athletic potential. For a team that gave up 30 or more points in half of its games last season, there is certainly room for improvement.