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QB Prospect Landry Jones Not Wavering When It Comes To Becoming A Sooner
It can be a bit unsettling for college recruiters when a rookie quarterback like Sam Bradford steps up and takes on a starring role for a program like Oklahoma.
Donâ€™t misunderstand, having a good young quarterback is something every team in college football wants and needs. Itâ€™s just that from a recruiting standpoint, a young player locked into a starting quarterback job for four seasons can present a potential stumbling block when a team hits the recruiting trail in search of future QB talent.
For whatever reason, the nationâ€™s top quarterbacks differ from other positions on the field when it comes to recruiting. Like everyone else, quarterbacks are always looking for the best possible situation in a college.
Depth charts and roster spots are heavily scrutinized by prospective signal callers.
When Rhett Bomar won the starting job in 2005 as a redshirt freshman, coach Bob Stoopsâ€™ staff found very few players across the country willing in, compete and potentially wait their turn for a real chance at starting quarterback.
Most of the nationâ€™s elite QBs were more interested in opportunities at schools with similar tradition to Oklahoma, but where opportunity was greater. The nationâ€™s top prospects like Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Mallett were interested in Notre Dame and Michigan over Oklahoma.
It was only after Bomar was dismissed from the team, and only after a large void at the quarterback position was created, that the Sooners were able to go out and pick up Keith Nichol, an elite quarterback from the same class that produced Clausen and Mallett.
Fast forward to the recruiting trail for the 2008 class and the Sooners find themselves in a similar situation with Bradford seemingly entrenched as the starting quarterback for years to come.
But thanks to an early commitment from Landry Jones, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder from Artesia (N.M). High School, they shouldnâ€™t have to worry about finding another elite quarterback in the near future.
Jones has been committed to OU for almost seven months now. Heâ€™s watched Bradford take off as one of the biggest stories of the 2007 college football season.
Even so, Bradfordâ€™s emergence has done nothing to shake Jonesâ€™ pledge, even if some people around him are questioning why he would remain committed to Oklahoma with Bradford seemingly entrenched at QB.
â€śSome people ask me about it but not too many,â€ť Jones said. â€śIâ€™m glad for Sam. I think Samâ€™s doing a good job, so it doesnâ€™t change the way I look at Oklahoma.â€ť
Jones isnâ€™t wavering because he already feels a part of the Oklahoma program. Quarterback coach Josh Heupel has developed a great relationship with the New Mexico triggerman over the last year.
Even though he hasnâ€™t taken an official visit to Oklahoma, Jones has spent parts of the last two summers in Norman and heâ€™s even helped recruit others to join him.
â€śWe talk about a little bit of everything,â€ť said Jones of his conversations with Heupel. â€śI usually just call him once a week. We kind of talk about everything. We talk about football a lot and I tell him how I did on Friday night and we just kind of talk about their game and stuff like that.
Jones knows about Heupelâ€™s reputation as a film-study guru. Heâ€™s taken advantage of his time in Norman by cornering Heupel and learning the intricacies of how to take advantage of what he sees on tape.
â€śHeâ€™ll tell me to study first and second downs and a teamâ€™s tendencies and what they do in short-yardage and little pointers like that,â€ť said Jones. â€śI try to take some of that stuff with me and I try to do that in high school.â€ť
Jones has plenty of other ties holding him to Norman, things that are more than enough to overcome any worries about potential playing time with Bradford at the helm. Heâ€™ll be joining one of the best recruiting classes in the country when he signs on the dotted line in February.
R.J. Washington, one of our featured recruits in Sooner Spectator earlier this year, is the only premier defender already committed for the 2008 class. The rest of the marquee â€™08 commitments so far are on the offensive side of the ball.
Jeff Fuller, a 6-foot-4, 202-pound wide receiver from McKinney, Texas, is a Rivals.com Top 100 national recruit. Dejuan Miller, a 6-foot-6, 207-pound wide receiver from Metuchen, N.J. is a Rivals.com Top 250 national recruit.
Jermie Calhoun, a 6-foot, 210-pound running back is the nationâ€™s No. 9 overall player according to Rivals.com.
Those are all players who will join Jones at Oklahoma next year.
And itâ€™s the biggest reason why heâ€™s sticking with Oklahoma when others want to question his decision.
â€śIâ€™ve talked to Dejuan Miller and Iâ€™ve met Jermie Calhoun a couple of times before,â€ť said Jones. â€śItâ€™s really exciting. Iâ€™ll get to throw to all kinds of different guys. Weâ€™ve got a lot of guys with speed this year and Iâ€™m excited to get up there and start going.â€ť
Right now, Jones is caught somewhere in between being a fan of Oklahoma football and looking toward the future.
Talking to the young man, one gets a true sense that he separates the team he sees on the field now from the teams he will be a part of in the future. Unlike a lot of quarterbacks, heâ€™s not trying to fit himself into Oklahomaâ€™s offense immediately.
Instead, the strong-armed prep star is thinking about the players who will be coming in with him and how they will be responsible for the future of this program.
That approach allows him to sit back and enjoy Bradfordâ€™s success instead of worrying about how it will affect him in the here and now.
â€śSamâ€™s doing a great job leading the team and theyâ€™ve got a really good offensive line this year and their defense has played really good the last couple of games,â€ť said Jones. â€śI think itâ€™s great. Their receivers and running backs have been playing good too.â€ť
Maybe it has to do with Jonesâ€™ perception of football coming from the state of New Mexico. Maybe he just doesnâ€™t understand how big his world is about to become. But heâ€™s certainly avoided the trappings of other big-time quarterbacks who would have seen Bradfordâ€™s early rise as a possible roadblock.
To his credit, Jones only lives in the world he can control. He only sees what he needs to do in order to be ready for the next level.
â€śI just kind of try to improve myself overall just keep working on my footwork drills,â€ť Jones said. â€śIâ€™m trying to get faster, trying to get stronger and Iâ€™m just trying to improve myself overall. Your footwork is almost always the most important thing.
â€śYou get your footwork into your throw and youâ€™re always going to be more accurate with the ball.â€ť
And that quest to become the best quarterback he can be is something that keeps him connected to Oklahoma.
Itâ€™s not uncommon for Jones to send his latest game to Heupel and get his feedback. What did he do on this play and how can he get better?
Those are conversations that always keep him coming back for more. So much so that no one needs to ask those questions about whether Bradfordâ€™s emergence will make him rethink his decision.
Jones is on track to become a Sooner in the not-too-distant future. And it would seem nothing or nobody is going to derail that fact.
(Editor's Note: This article appears in the Oct. 10 issue of Sooner Spectator. To subscribe today, call toll free 1-888-335-4385 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.)