Jones: 'I Knew What I Wanted to Do'

NORMAN, Okla. — Quarterback Landry Jones was waffling back and forth on whether or not to return to Oklahoma.

He saw the obvious pros and cons of each decision.

Stay and build on his already rich legacy.

Or leave as a likely first round draft pick, make millions of dollars and pursue an NFL dream.

Jones was so torn he thought he'd take up until the Jan. 15 deadline. Ultimately, he didn't; instead, he came to grips with his decision 10 days before that.

"No, nothing really changed," Jones said. "It was just I'd been thinking about it quite a bit and I was just ready to make my decision. I didn't want to wait any longer. I figured I would take all the way up to the 15th, but I knew what I wanted to do and prayed about it and felt good about it."

It was coming back to OU for his senior season and finishing out his career in the Crimson and Cream.

And the reasoning why, pretty simple.

"You know, just some things that I wanted to accomplish here, maybe a couple goals," Jones said. "And then I just wanted to be back and really enjoy my senior year and really enjoy my teammates and enjoy this team, enjoy being a Sooner for one more year."

So, what's left to accomplish?

The obvious, for one.

"Yeah, I mean there's always the big thing that stands out there is being able to compete for a national championship," Jones said. "And then just some individual stuff that I wanted to do is be an All-American and have another run at the Heisman Trophy. And I'm lucky enough to be at a place like Oklahoma that I have a lot of good guys around me that I'm capable of making those things come true, maybe."

But there's some impressive national statistical marks he's chasing.

With his 12,379 passing yards in his career, Jones is just 4,693 shy of Timmy Chang for second place on the all-time list.

Of course, Case Keenum just broke his record last year and stands at 19,217, which would force Jones to throw for more than 6,800 yards to eclipse that.

Still, though, the all-time leading passer in Sooner history could get into the top two or three nationally with another solid season.

Currently, he's in sixth, behind just Keenum, Chang, Graham Harrell (15,793), Ty Detmer (15,031) and Philip Rivers (13,484).

Jones, who has thrown more touchdowns than any other Sooner signal caller, is also closing in on the NCAA top five in career touchdown passes, needing 22 to break into a tie for fifth.

Keenum also leads that category with his 155, and Colt Brennan (131), Detmer (121), Chang (117) and Tim Rattay (115) round out the top five.

And with three more wins, he'll surpass Steve Davis as the all-time winningest quarterback in Sooner history.

"That wasn't on the radar," Jones said. "I didn't know about that one, but now that I do, it's on there...It would just be a big honor. You know, I've been fortunate enough to play here for awhile and fortunate enough to place pretty decently around this place and put up some numbers. You know, so it'd just be an honor to have my name in that mix."

Undoubtedly, Jones has inserted himself into the mix of some of the best quarterbacks in OU history.

Out of eight quarterbacks that have started at least 30 games throughout their Sooner careers, Jones ranks fourth with his 81.8 percent winning percentage, behind just Davis (95.6), Jamelle Holieway (90.9) and former Heisman Trophy Winner Jason White (87.1).

He's even ahead of Sam Bradford, another former Heisman Trophy winner during the Bob Stoops era.

Bradford won 77.4 percent of his 31 starts.

So, Jones is definitely in some elite company.

Could he even be the best ever?

"Is it realistic for him to do that? Why wouldn't it be?" said co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. "But I don't think that's what he's concerned with. You guys get the opportunity to decide those things and talk about it on the airwaves and media and that type of thing."

It's interesting, too, some of the treatment Jones gets considering all the numbers he has posted throughout his career.

All too often it seems like he's unappreciated locally, perhaps praised more nationally while criticized to no end by some others closer to Norman.

Perhaps some of it is the fact he quarterbacked right after Bradford, who ascended into the NFL as the No. 1 Draft pick back in 2010.

Lofty expectations and comparisons--many of those he's certainly lived up to--were thrown upon him immediately.

Regardless, locals at times appear to appreciate him less than they possibly should.

"That might be true, that might be true," Heupel said. "But at the end of the day, whether they appreciate you locally or not, you're only as good as your next performance and his next performance is next September against UTEP. You know what I mean? You guys will judge him after that one, and you'll either praise him or not praise him after that ball game.

"And he'll still have to go out and play the next week against whoever we got at home the following week. You know, that's the reality of it."

The reality for those who don't know Jones personally is that he's a relentless worker.

He's always willing to improve in all areas.

He's just about as focused on polishing up his game as he could be.

"The thing that I like about Landry in his growth is that he's very confident in himself," Heupel said. "He understands when he plays good and when he doesn't play good, but he understands who he is and he bounces back and he goes back to work. And you know, ultimately he can't control or think about that. The only thing he can control or think about is working every single day to put himself in the best position to help this football team win each and every Saturday."

In fact, refining some of his technique and improving as a quarterback is another major reason he decided to come back.

"I mean, obviously just making better decisions, getting the offense a little bit more and knowing it, quicker and making decisions faster, moving in the pocket is definitely one thing," Jones said about what he hopes to improve on.

Heupel, who hadn't been able to see his quarterback throw since the conclusion of the 2011 season until the start of spring ball the other day, said the improvement is already starting to show.

However, improvement is a neverending process and maximizing total potential is something quarterbacks and players at all positions to continue to strive towards throughout their entire career.

"Are there strides? Yeah," Heupel said. "Well, he's got pretty good command of what we're doing offensively. He'll tell you what the offensive line's supposed to do and protection, who busts, when they're supposed to make an up call. I mean, he understands those things. Can he be better in understanding our offense? Yeah. Can he have more command? Yes. Can he play smarter? Yes. Can he be a better leader? Absolutely. Is he continuing to make strides in those areas? I believe that he is.

"These 15 days [of spring ball] are important, too, getting out there, developing a rapport with some of these young guys you're talking about, getting on the same page, taking a tight end or young wide receiver and saying, ‘Hey, this is what I see. What did you see? This is how I want this route run. This is where the ball's gonna be thrown.' I mean, those are some of the maturity and communication things that you want from a quarterback.

One thing's for sure: Jones came to the conclusion that bettering himself another year at the college level, regardless of the amount of hardware and records he brings home, was the right decision to make.

He made it, and now it's time to move on and look towards some of the things he's chasing as a senior signal caller in 2012.

It looks like he already has.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.


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