The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 26, 2011

OU QB Landry Jones ponders entering NFL draft

By John Shinn, CNHI News Service

— NORMAN – Landry Jones isn’t procrastinating. It’s a decision he knows he has to make, and he wants to make it with a clear mind.

The choice the Oklahoma quarterback has is whe-ther to make the Insight Bowl meeting with Iowa on Dec. 30 in Tempe, Ariz., his final game as a Sooner or return for his senior year.

“I’m going to have plenty of time after the season to really sit down and think about what I want to do,” he said.

Jones hasn’t closed off any avenues. He submitted paperwork to be evaluated by the NFL draft advisory committee. Jones wants to know where he likely would be taken if he elected to enter the 2012 NFL draft.

Most experts believe that would be somewhere in the first round.

To a lot of players, that’s the green light and the end of the discussion. The one dream all football players share is playing in the NFL. You don’t ignore it when it’s there.

Some of the usual rationales to keep players in college don’t factor into Jones’ decision. He’s 11 hours away from receiving his interdisciplinary studies degree. It’s four classes, and Jones could take all of them online and get his diploma.

The Insight Bowl will mark his 37th career start as OU’s quarterback. Experience isn’t a factor.

“If you stay until you’re 50, you’re gonna have things to work on,” Jones said. “It’s just a whole new ballgame when you go up there, I’m sure. I have no idea because I’ve never played in the NFL or anything like that, but I think you just have to feel if you’re emotionally and physically ready to play.”

But there are factors in the decision. Jones is engaged to OU women’s basketball player Whitney Hand. The wedding is planned for this summer. It would be nice to spend that first year, at least, living together.

“It would be nice to stay here. I’m sure Whitney will support me in whatever I want to do,” Jones said.

The OU quarterback likes being in college. One factor that leads him toward staying is being able to get that degree in the spring semester and being able to have one season where football is all that matters. The NCAA allows players who’ve already received their undergraduate degrees to play as long as they enroll in one class.

But the biggest factor is probably going to be whether the Sooners can compete for a national championship. Several months ago, OU thought it had a team to do that, but the way this season ended showed there never are any guarantees in that regard. It’s one of the questions Jones needs answered when he sits down with Sooners coach Bob Stoops early next month to make a decision.

The Sooners always are going to start the season with those kinds of expectations. They’ll be there whether Jones is playing quarterback next season or not.

“That’s what’s nice about this place is, year in and year out, you’re always in the mix of being able to go to that game,” Jones said.

Jones owns just about every Sooner passing record. Another season would put just about every one of them out of reach.

The chance to win a Heisman Trophy and that elusive national championship would all be on the table if he returned for one more season.

“One of the things that would be neat, just in my case, I’ve never gotten to experience All-American or any of that stuff,” he said. “Not saying I’ll be an All-American next year, but it just gives me another chance to be in that group.”

They’re all things Jones will discuss with the coaching staff after the bowl game.

While Jones remains non-committal on the subject, sources close to OU and Jones believe he will return next season.

“I’ve got a decent feel, but again, we’ll have to wait and see until we get all the information,” Stoops said this week.

Jones has until Jan. 15 to decide. That’s 16 days to contemplate his future after the Insight Bowl.