- David Ubben, College Football
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IRVING, Texas -- For each of the past two seasons, Landry Jones began the season on the short list for the Heisman Trophy with a team ranked in the top 10, including a nod as the nation's preseason No. 1 team in 2011.
Each season, Jones piled up bushels of yardage but never more than 10 wins -- and, most importantly, no national titles or national championship game appearances.
"Everybody wants to have that chance to play in that championship game. Everybody wants to be an All-American. Everyone wants to win the Heisman, but there’s only a select few that actually get to do it, and those things were definitely left on the table for me," Jones said. "I wish I’d been able to accomplish them, but sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. I’ve always wanted to be in New York and do all those things, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way."
Thing is, for Oklahoma quarterbacks it very often does work out like that. Jones' offensive coordinator, Josh Heupel, won a national title in 2000. Predecessor Jason White won a Heisman and played in national title games in 2003 and '04. Even the man Jones replaced in 2009, Sam Bradford, has a Heisman statue outside Owen Field and played in the BCS National Championship Game to cap the 2008 season.
Jones didn't do any of those things, but he'll leave Norman as the No. 3 passer in FBS history and will log his 50th start on Friday night at Cowboys Stadium. It's the same place his career began, when Bradford's essentially ended with a shoulder injury in the 2009 season-opening loss to BYU.
"I’m just really thankful. Not too many people get to play 50 games in their college career," Jones said. "I’m just really thankful for what I’ve been able to do and the position God’s put me in to be on this team and play as much as I have."
Jones acknowledged the high standards of Oklahoma fans, which have often led to criticism when he fell short of the sky-high expectations established by the quarterbacks before him under Bob Stoops, and legendary coaches and players before Stoops who won the program's first six national titles.
Jones was very, very good, but made the fatal mistake of not being quite as good as Bradford, the man who left Oklahoma as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, despite that shoulder injury that provided the opportunity for Jones to play 50 games.
After No. 50 is done, Jones will be gone, handing the torch to the man behind him, likely Blake Bell. This week, Jones certainly sounded like a man who's enjoyed his opportunities and is ready for the next step of his life.
"At this place, you know what Monday’s going to look like, you know what Tuesday’s going to look like, but I don’t know what the next chapter of my life’s going to look like. You could be first round, first pick, or you could go as a free agent," Jones said. "You just never know, and never know what teams are going to do and who they’re going to pick up and what your future’s going to look like. It’s exciting to walk out and see where you end up, and what God has in store for you."
4dDavid M. Hale