Posted by Jerry Hinnen
2011 may have been a disappointment for the preseason No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners. But their chances for redemption in 2012 just took a major step forward.
Record-setting junior quarterback Landry Jones announced Thursday in a statement issued by the Sooner program that he would be returning for his senior season in Norman and postponing his chance to be a first-round NFL Draft pick. Jones had been rated the 22nd prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com and had been projected by some to go in the first 15 picks if he had declared early.
“I want to accomplish the goals that I set before I got here, and there is still a lot more to do,” Jones said. “I want to make sure I’ve exhausted every effort in that area. And I want to be a senior. I enjoy being at OU and with my teammates and look forward to graduating with the guys that were in my class when I got here.”
Jones is already Oklahoma's all-time leader in both passing yards (with 12,389) and passing touchdowns (89). He has started 38 games for the Sooners, posting a record of 30-8. Jones quarterbacked the Sooners to both Big 12 and Fiesta Bowl championships in 2010.
Despite those accomplishments, Jones' draft stock fell late in the 2011 season as both he and the Sooner offense struggled in the wake of All-American receiver Ryan Broyles' season-ending injury. In the final three games of the Sooners' regular season, all without Broyles -- and against Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, not exactly a defensive murderer's row -- Jones totaled no touchdowns and five interceptions, while averaging just 6.6 yards per passing attempt.
After those disappointments, the expectation was that Jones would return and attempt to solidify his draft stock with a better season in 2012. But Bob Stoops was nonetheless relieved by Jones' decision.
“We know the positive influence Landry has on and off the field with our team,” Stoops said. “We’re excited that he’s coming back to build on what has already been an outstanding career. We expect another great year from him, and like the fact that he’s determined to be even better.”
Despite linebacker Ronnell Lewis's decision to enter the draft earlier Thursday, Jones' return will no doubt have Oklahoma among the favorites -- if not the favorite -- to reclaim the Big 12 title in 2012. It's a role Jones sounds like he has no problem with the Sooners adopting.
“We hope to have another opportunity to make a title run,” he said. “Most of the offensive line returns and we have several receivers and backs return too. We’ve also got a lot of guys back on defense, so we’re confident that we can be a strong team.”
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