By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Among the seven men inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Saturday night was a French Camp Academy
Although Walter Jones, who played 13 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks as an offensive tackle, never played a down for the FCA Panthers, he took time during his acceptance speech to recognize the school he credited with given him a chance at a professional career.
“(I thank) French Camp Academy, the school that allowed me to continue my studies and graduate from high school and continue on my football journey,” Jones said. “If not for this wonderful school, I would not be standing her tonight.”
Bruce Hosket was the head coach of the Panthers when Jones came to campus for the spring and summer semesters of 1993.
“He was having some struggles at school and at home and was talking about dropping out of school,” he said. “His coach asked if I would take him.”
It was hard for Hosket to say no, since the coach asking for help was former FCA head coach Chris McIntosh, who was then Jones’ coach at Aliceville (Ala.) High School.
“He really came in here and worked hard and got himself straight,” said Hosket, who now assists FCA head coach Nathan Wright. “That is the neat thing about it. A lot of times people accuse folks of using kids for what they can do for them, but that is a classic example of helping out when there is nothing at all to be gained, other than giving the kid a chance. It’s not about money or anything else. We had no idea at the time what he would become.”
What Jones became was a star at Holmes Community College, where he was named the top junior college football player in the state after his sophomore year. He then went on to start for Florida State University before being drafted in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks.
Jones made the Pro Bowl nine times and started each of his 180 games in Seattle. Amazingly enough, the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Jones was penalized just nine times for holding and only allowed 23 quarterback sacks in his entire professional career.
“When he got here he had never really been in the weight room,” Hosket said. “But he got in there and worked out with the team, just like he was one of them. He was just a big guy with some God given talent.”
Hosket said that a couple Holmes coaches were on campus looking at some FCA athletes and he suggested they take a look at Jones. While that was during a time they weren’t able to speak to him, they peaked in to see what he looked like, giving him “the eyeball test.”
“I think he passed,’ Hosket said with a slight laugh. “He was really fast and could play on defense or tight end. The right decision was made playing him on the offensive line.”
Saturday’s induction ceremonies most certainly backed that up, as he joined Ray Guy, Michael Strahan, Derrick Brooks, Claude Humphrey, Andre Reed, and Aeneas Williams as part of the seven-man Hall of Fame class of 2014.