Jones Grasps Attention as More Vocal Leader

DALLAS — When the Sooners up the 2011 season, they'll have a different signal caller than last year.

Not different as in a new face behind center, but rather, different as in a more assertive quarterback.

A guy that commands respect.

A guy that exudes it.

A guy that guides his troops now both verbally and by example.

"He's a great leader for us, more vocal now than ever," said slot receiver Ryan Broyles. "And he's one of those guys that you would love to follow."

He's been able to make that transformation by virtue of a pair of successful seasons as the starting quarterback.

In his first year, Jones was inconsistent at times, but still threw for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions, as he was thrown into the fire when Sam Bradford suffered what eventually became a season-ending injury.

"Look how he finished that year; he finished that year great, really was unheralded for it," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "You know, he did a great job the back half of that season. And then, you know, of course last year he just continued to improve, so anyway."

So much so that he took his game to a whole another level in 2010-11 when he completed 65.6 percent of his passes for more than 4,700 yards, including 38 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions.

That landed him the Sammy Baugh Award as well as All-Big 12 first team honors by a couple publications.

"Yeah, I played pretty well last year," Jones said. "Just being able to play at that level kind of as a leader gives you a little extra kind of, I guess, motivating factor behind your voice where people perk up and listen to you a little bit more just because of the way you played on the field and the way you performed. And so, yeah, it's given me a lot of confidence going into this off-season to let people know what my expectations of them and that sort of stuff. So, last year was a really good year for me."

And it was a good one for the team for that matter, in more ways than one.

Not only were they able to win the Big 12 Championship and the Fiesta Bowl behind his stellar play, but it also allowed the players to gravitate towards him more as not just a quarterback but as a relentless leader.

"Yeah, Landry, he's not a robot," Broyles said. "He'll take chances when he wants to take chances. I think that's what makes him a great player. I feel like you have to be aggressive at times, but he knows when to lay off the pedal some as well. He continues to work as we expect."

Jones also continues to get better.

He attributes that largely to game preparation.

"I think last year I learned the most on how to prepare for games," Jones said. "The way I watched film last year, how detailed I was at taking notes, I think that really helped me out as far as playing the way I felt like I was capable of playing."

That, Stoops said, is not something that surprises him.

"I went and watched him in high school [at Artesia in New Mexico]," Stoops said. "He threw a great ball, came from a great high school where they were coached incredibly well. And, you know, I could tell what a worker he was just by watching him practice and the leader he was, so we felt he would [become this good of a player and leader]."

Stoops even went so far as to compare him in that manner to many recent Sooner greats at quarterback, including Bradford, Jason White and Josh Heupel.

"You know, for us I feel he's been pretty consistent with that," Stoops said. "I've said this a few times. The other really great quarterbacks we've had, he's right in the mold of them in how he's progressing and his personality and his everything that he does, his work ethic."

These are all reasons why Jones has now grown into a valuable leader, and these are all reasons why the Sooners will have a legitimate chance to win the national championship when the season opens up Sept. 3 against Tulsa at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

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