BACK FOR HIS SENIOR SEASON: Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones

OU quarterback QB Landry Jones returning for senior season - The Boys Are Back blog

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is close friends with Cowboys tight end James Hanna. The former college teammates played three seasons together with the Sooners.

When Jones got married in Fort Worth on July 6, Hanna, the Cowboys’ sixth round pick in April, was one of his groomsmen.

So it only seems obvious that the two would joke around about the possibility of playing together on Sundays.

“It’s a huge joke because I’ll never go to the Cowboys,” Jones said Monday during Big 12 media days at The Westin Galleria hotel. “That would be so fun to be able to go back and play with him. I wish him nothing but the best at the Cowboys, but I don’t know if there’s ever a chance that me and him will ever play together. They got a pretty good guy down there that’s going to be playing there for a long time.”

Tony Romo is certainly a very good NFL quarterback, but he’s 32 and the Cowboys could always use a young, strong-armed passer to learn under a veteran quarterback.

However, that would likely come from a draft pick in the later rounds. Most likely, Jones won’t be available at that time. The Oklahoma quarterback nearly entered the NFL Draft this year, filling out the paperwork that allows experts to project were a prospect would be chosen. Jones said he was informed that he would go in the first round.

Even though there are no guarantees, it was enough to make Jones put serious thought into foregoing his senior season.

“I remember the day, I was praying about it and then just kind of had a peace about staying,” Jones said. “I felt like that was what the Lord wanted me to do.”

Coming back for a shot at a national championship also played a significant role. The Sooners lost three of their last seven games last season and Jones’ numbers dipped from an outstanding sophomore campaign that included 4,718 passing yards and 38 touchdown passes. Jones threw for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011.

But Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops doesn’t blame that finish on his starting quarterback. Stoops said Monday that he didn’t ask Jones to improve on anything during the off-season. Instead, Stoops said he asked 10 other players on offense to improve.

“Everybody (said), ‘Landry struggled,’” Stoops said. “No, he didn’t. The offense struggled. He had more dropped passes in the last three games, we couldn’t even keep track of how many. Didn’t run the football as effectively as we needed to at all.

“All of that goes together. And so to me, it’s more of an issue of the offense and the offense around him than it is him.”

Oklahoma vs Florida State football, OU won 47-17. Photos by Ty Russell

If the Sooners are to reach the national title game for the first time since January 2009, Jones will likely have to be as effective as past Sooners quarterbacks Josh Heupel, Jason White and Sam Bradford. Stoops sees many similarities between Jones and those other three. Pretty good company considering Heupel won a national championship and White and Bradford each won a Heisman Trophy.

A good work ethic, size, talent and toughness are some of the traits that Stoops says his current quarterback shares with the other standouts he’s coached at Oklahoma.

According to Jones, the measurables, comparisons and statistics don’t matter this season. Getting the Sooners into the national title game like Heupel, White and Bradford did is what he cares about most.

“I don’t want to be just somebody that has a lot of good stats,” Jones said. “I want to be somebody that gets to play in that national title game, and actually win one.”

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