John Klein: Landry Jones' greatness hidden in shadows
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Friday, January 04, 2013
1/04/13 at 4:12 AM
Related story: The last ride for Landry.
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Jones' greatness is hidden in shadows
IRVING, Texas - Landry Jones will play his final college football game in the huge shadow of Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
"We recognize what a great quarterback Johnny Manziel is, but we love our quarterback, as well," said OU coach Bob Stoops.
Jones, who owns virtually every Oklahoma quarterbacking record, has spent most of his career in the shadows.
He got the job when Sam Bradford, the Heisman winner and generally accepted as OU's best-ever quarterback, was injured. As such, Jones has spent the past four years continually being compared to Bradford, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft four years ago and star with the St. Louis Rams.
Then, Jones had the unlucky timing of being at Oklahoma when Oklahoma State and Baylor had the best quarterbacks in their history.
Baylor's Robert Griffin III won the 2011 Heisman Trophy and was a first round NFL pick of the Washington Redskins.
OSU's Brandon Weeden was an all-conference quarterback, won 22 games as a starter over two seasons and threw most of his passes to the nation's best receiver in 2010 and 2011 (Justin Blackmon) before being the first choice of the Cleveland Browns.
If that wasn't enough, the Big 12 had Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill in 2011, also a first-round pick in the NFL draft.
Jones has been good. In many ways, he has been great, and many believe he will be a high-first-round draft pick.
However, because of bad timing, he isn't likely to be remembered as great. That's too bad. Jones has been a terrific player on teams that won a Big 12 title, tied for another and saved the 2009 season by rallying OU to the Sun Bowl after Bradford's injury.
By almost every measurement, Jones has been one of the best players in Oklahoma history.
"Landry has had a long and great journey," said Stoops. "It started here out of nowhere when Sam Bradford got hurt, and he genuinely could not wait for his opportunity to go out and play.
"Through the years he did a great job in tough circumstances with the other guys around him that were hurt. He has grown and developed through the years. A great worker. A great talent."
But, he remains one of the least appreciated players in recent OU history.
The Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M on Friday night at Cowboys Stadium will be his 50th career start, and he'll be trying to win his 40th game (both OU records).
It is often said the most critiqued job in the state is Oklahoma's quarterback. That has certainly been true the past four years.
OU fans appreciate championships and say Jones has not lived up to historical standards.
The criticism is fine with Jones.
"We both have extremely high standards," said Jones. "For our fans, it is either national championship or we wait for next year to start playing again.
"That's the typical feeling around here, but that's OK. You would rather have that than say if we win five we are happy."
Coincidentally, Jones' first appearance as an OU quarterback came after Bradford was injured in the 2009 season-opening loss to BYU at Cowboys Stadium.
Since then he has taken over the top spot in all of Oklahoma's significant passing records - passing yards (16,368), passing attempts (2,135), passing completions (1,353), touchdown passes (122) and total offense (16,000 yards).
"You look at the record and the championships, it has been special. He has been a great quarterback for us," said Stoops.
Yes, he has.
"The bar is set very high at Oklahoma," said OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. "I don't think Landry Jones has to take a back seat to anybody. The guy has done more in college football than probably a handful of players.
"Sometimes Landry may get forgotten when you compare him to Sam Bradford and Jason White."
Numbers can be deceiving. Some quarterbacks have terrific numbers but are not great leaders.
Some quarterbacks pile up records but not victories.
Jones has records and victories. If Oklahoma wins on Friday, Jones will finish his career winning 80 percent of his starts.
"He is very (Alabama quarterback) A.J. McCarron-like," said Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. "He doesn't get rattled. He is never out of the game. There is nothing he hasn't seen. It seems like he has been there forever.
"He has seen it all, which concerns us. He runs the offense extremely well. He runs it. He manages it. He gives them a chance to win."
Sometimes you don't really appreciate something until it is gone.
That may happen starting Saturday morning.
Oklahoma's Landry Jones throws the ball under pressure from Terrance Lloyd of Baylor during their football game Nov. 10, 2012. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World