OU vet Jones vs. A&M's freshman Heisman at Cotton

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm •  Published: January 1, 2013
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IRVING, Texas (AP) — Landry Jones is back where he made his Oklahoma debut, and again in the shadow of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Jones took over as the Sooners' quarterback in the first-ever college game at Cowboys Stadium, in the 2009 season opener when he replaced injured Heisman winner Sam Bradford after halftime.

Three seasons later in the same stadium, Jones will make his 50th and last career start. The 12th-ranked Sooners play the Cotton Bowl on Friday night against 10th-ranked Texas A&M and dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel, the first freshman to win the Heisman.

Jones has won 39 games while throwing for 16,368 yards and 122 touchdowns. There have been two Big 12 titles and three bowl victories, including the Fiesta Bowl.

"It's crazy, what a great quarterback he is," Manziel said. "He's thrown for more than 3,000 yards every year. Just the things he's done at OU have been amazing. ... I was in high school for two years while he was in college. I'm a big fan. I think he's a great player."

Manziel, meanwhile, burst on the scene in the Aggies' first SEC season with plenty of highlight plays and big numbers of his own.

The redshirt freshman known as Johnny Football has thrown for 3,419 yards with 24 touchdowns, and run for another 1,181 yards and 19 scores. His 4,600 total yards broke the SEC record, and he's only the fifth player with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season.

"It's a testament to what kind of player he is, what type of person he is to be able to come in and play as well as he did as a freshman," Jones said.

The Cotton Bowl matchup of 10-2 teams and former Big 12 rivals pits the steady veteran against the exciting 20-year-old freshman in only his 13th game but already with college football's highest individual award.

"He knows exactly what he can and can't do and he tries to do those things as well as he can, and certainly his ability to extend and create plays, there's not really a defense for that," Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said Tuesday.

Manziel got his chance as the Texas A&M starter after Ryan Tannehill was the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft last April. Aggies linebacker Jonathan Stewart remembers Manziel being erratic at times during spring drills, but saw a huge difference when fall practice got started.

"You could see him starting to try to be a true quarterback and not just a backyard quarterback, just trying to run around and improvise every single play," Stewart said. "And then see him growing and growing all season, and then getting better and better every single week."

Coach Kevin Sumlin announced Manziel as the starter two weeks before the season opener.

As a redshirt freshman, Jones was expected to back up Bradford, who as a sophomore the previous season won the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners made it to the BCS national championship game.



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