Jenni Carlson: Mission trip brought out leadership, provided perspective for OU quarterback Landry Jones

by Jenni Carlson Published: July 26, 2011

DALLAS — When Landry Jones left on a mission trip to Haiti earlier this summer, he was one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

When he came back, he was better.

The Oklahoma quarterback had a life-altering experience while in that island nation. He glimpsed inconceivable poverty. He witnessed unflappable faith. But when devastating news came from home, his already-tugged heartstrings were stretched even tighter.

It changed Jones.

On the day the Sooners made their rounds at Big 12 Media Days, you could sense a difference in the quarterback. He had an ease about him that was absent these past two seasons.

He is more confident in his role as a leader.

“It's an honor to lead this team,” Jones said. “It's an honor to lead these guys.”

Two years ago, Jones was thrown into the fire as a quarterback and a leader when Sam Bradford injured his shoulder. He was simply trying to make something out of a season that held so much promise, to survive a season marred by injuries.

But even last year when Jones returned as the starter, there was a sense that the leadership crown sat uneasily on his head.

Yes, he quarterbacked the Sooners to the Big 12 championship. Sure, he helped OU end its five-game losing streak in BCS bowls with a Fiesta Bowl triumph. Still, Jones didn't have that air of ultimate confidence that surrounds so many quarterbacks.

Had someone asked him to attend Media Days or take a two-by-four upside the head a year ago, for example, Jones might've taken the knot on his noggin.

Not so this year.

“I'm probably not as comfortable as Travis is,” Jones said, glancing across the room at teammate Travis Lewis.

Listen, no one is as comfortable with the media as the loquacious linebacker. He spouts quotable one-liners quicker than a comedy-club act.

Still, there's no doubt Jones is more at ease.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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