NORMAN — Landry Jones has executed elaborate game plans throughout his football career.
None was quite like the one he quarterbacked recently.
The Oklahoma quarterback proposed marriage to longtime girlfriend and Sooner shooting guard Whitney Hand last month. Much like those gridiron game plans, this one was elaborate. It needed several months of planning. It required the help of a team.
She said yes.
“He did great,” Hand said. “It was perfect.”
Score another victory for Jones.
In the couple's first interview together since their June 12 engagement, Jones and Hand talked Tuesday afternoon about the details of the proposal and the impact of their pending nuptials on their future as Sooners.
Jones and Hand have been talking about getting engaged for the better part of a year. It first came up last Christmas. Having dated for two years, they knew they wanted to get married one day.
They talked about it. They prayed about it. And eventually, he told her that he would propose after the spring semester.
“Every date,” Hand said, “I was getting a new dress because you never knew.”
Turns out, she was about the only one who didn't know.
Jones began planning the proposal right after the first of the year, calling both her family and his family to get their blessings. Then in late May, he invited all of them as well as numerous friends and teammates to an engagement party on June 12, the Sunday evening he planned to propose.
Hand had been working a youth basketball camp that week.
“And the whole entire camp knew apparently,” she said. “I had no idea.”
But she did notice that people were acting a bit weird. Her roommates, always quick with suggestions about outfits and accessories, were no help when she was trying to figure out what to wear that Sunday. She thought they didn't care.
Instead, they just didn't want to spill the beans.
Jones spent the entire weekend getting his house ready. He created a walkway through it. He decorated with candles. He strung lights in the backyard. He hung a letters on the fence that spelled out, “MARRY ME.”
Jones took Hand to dinner that night, and when they got back to his house, he told her that he had something for her in the backyard. He wanted her to go through the house, and he would meet her in the back.
When Hand got inside, she found Jones' two older sisters. Each of them read a letter that Jones had written to Hand, the first about their past, the second about their present.
Then when Hand got to the backyard, Jones read a third letter that he'd written, this one about their future.
“She was laughing and crying at the same time,” Jones said.
Hand said, “I was so overwhelmed, I couldn't even listen to the letters.”
No worries — Jones enlisted Hand's older sister to videotape the whole thing.
That included the moment Jones got down on one knee and asked Hand to marry him. Through tears and laughs, she said yes.
Then, he gave her a ring.
It has a larger circle-cut diamond that is surrounded by numerous small diamonds. Several more small diamonds are on the top of the band. Those small diamonds carry added significance as a gift from Jones' maternal grandmother, who took them from one of her bracelets.
Even though Jones and Hand had been talking about an engagement, a ring wasn't something they'd discussed much.
“She kind of gave me an idea of the design or the type that she liked,” Jones said.
“He did it all by himself,” Hand said. “He designed it, went and got it made.
“He's pretty proud of it.”
She glanced at Jones.
He winked at Hand.
“This is better than anything I could've picked out,” she said.
The happy couple still has yet to decide on a wedding date. Or a location. Or much of anything. But there are two details about which Jones and Hand are sure.
First, they want to keep the wedding simple.
“We would go to the courthouse if we could,” she said.
Second, they intend to keep other commitments in mind even as they solidify the one between themselves.
Both have two seasons of college eligibility remaining.
“I'm going to finish my two years,” said Hand, who will likely finish her bachelor's degree and start work on a master's degree later this year.
Jones' future is still up in the air. He may have a chance to leave OU for the NFL after this season. He has no idea yet what he will do if faced with that prospect, but he knows he has the support of his soon-to-be wife.
“We're both very comfortable with whatever happens,” Hand said. “We both want to finish what we started. Later in life, we don't want to look back and say we didn't do it right.”
Jones nodded and said, “We've worked so hard towards something. It's nice having someone who understands ... being a collegiate athlete and what it takes. You don't want to throw that all down the toilet and do something you're going to regret later on.”
Make of those comments what you will, Sooner Nation. Will he stay? Will he go?
I don't know.
I don't think he does either.
But this much is clear: Jones and Hand support each other regardless of the situation. They seem in tune with each other. They seem to complement one another.
We may joke around about the Sooners' celebrity couple — should we call them Handry or Landney? — and the details of how he popped the question to her may only add to the fairy tale. But don't let the mushy stuff fool you.
These two are a formidable team.