Landry Jones' OU career began, will end in Cowboys Stadium

IRVING -- It's only fitting Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones will make his 50th and final college start Friday in the 77th Cotton Bowl Classic at Cowboys Stadium.

"A lot of things have impacted my life in this area," said Jones, an Artesia, N.M., native.

"There is some significance here and it's exciting to be back here and finish my college career where it started."

Jones' first snap in a Sooners uniform was at Cowboys Stadium as a redshirt freshman in 2009, when starter and returning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford injured his shoulder late in the first half against BYU.

Jones steered Oklahoma back to Arlington the following season to claim the Big 12 title after trailing Nebraska by as many 17 points. He also married Oklahoma women's basketball star Whitney Hand, a Fort Worth native, last summer at a ceremony in Cowtown.

On Friday he leads the No. 11 Sooners (10-2) against former Big 12 foe No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2) and Heisman winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Perhaps it's also fitting that Jones is overshadowed this week by his quarterbacking counterpart. Over the course of his career, he's been judged by some for what he hasn't accomplished rather than the records and wins under his belt.

"Everybody wants to have that chance to play in the national championship game, everyone wants to be an All-American, everybody wants to win the Heisman, but there are only a select few who actually get to do it," Jones said. "Those things were definitely left out on the table for me. I wish I would have been able to accomplish them, but sometimes it just doesn't work out like that."

Despite not reaching heights that Oklahoma fans have come to expect from their quarterbacks, the four-year starter will depart Norman as one of the most prolific passers in NCAA history.

Jones ranks third all-time in FBS career passing yards (16,368) and fifth in career touchdown passes (122). He is the Big 12 career passing leader, owns nearly all career passing records at Oklahoma and is the winningest quarterback in school history with 39 victories.

He's also won at least a share of two Big 12 titles and defeated Texas three consecutive years as the starter.

"I think for much of his career, people have taken him for granted," said Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, a former All-America quarterback, who led Oklahoma to its last national title in 2000.

"He's been the rock of our program for the past four years and played at an extremely high level throughout."

Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said that after watching Jones on film, he certainly appreciates the senior's skills.

"He's very poised, he's got some moxie and has played a lot of football," Snyder said. "There's nothing I'm going to throw at this kid that he hasn't seen and that's not always the case."

Jones is projected anywhere from a first-round to late-round pick in the NFL Draft, but will get a shot somewhere.

"It's been exciting to be in college and to be here at the University of Oklahoma but I think me and Whitney both are excited about the new chapter we're going to start," Jones said.

Jarret Johnson


Twitter: @JohnsonJarret

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram