NORMAN — Hard to believe there was some debate about who would be Oklahoma's starting quarterback in 2011 at Meet the Sooners Day last year.
It was such a hot topic, The Oklahoman polled OU fans.
Landry Jones was the overwhelming choice (70 percent), but incoming freshman Blake Bell received 25 percent of the votes.
Twelve months later, Jones has a stranglehold on the position. Some view him as the favorite to win the Heisman. NFL scouts rank Jones a top 15 pick in next year's draft.
"He's very much in the same mold as the other great quarterbacks we've had," said coach Bob Stoops. "And we've been fortunate to have a lot of them.
"He has the attitude, the work ethic, humility where players love him and want to play for him. And he's got skill. He's a big guy. He's got a huge arm. He's bright."
Jones' success isn't a knock against Bell, a big, athletic quarterback from Wichita, Kan. After redshirting last season, Bell has a bright future but is battling Drew Allen for the backup role.
A junior from Artesia, N.M., Jones is entering his third year as the starting quarterback. Stoops contends last season was the first time Jones truly was the starter, even though he started 10 games when Sam Bradford was sidelined with a shoulder injury two years ago.
"People forget when Sam gets hurt, (Jones) wasn't getting the number of snaps that Sam was getting," Stoops said. "It's not like we had a year to prepare for it by getting him practice snaps, whether it be two-a-days, the summer leading up to it or the spring.
"Naturally, he was behind the 8-ball with practice time that Sam was getting."
Jones now has had two springs. He's in his second fall camp as the starter, a seasoned veteran who has started 24 games.
"As a quarterback you can't replace playing games," Jones said. "No matter how long you practice, or how long you watch film, you can't replace game experience. Last year was really big for me."
Jones led the nation in pass completions (405). He ranked second nationally in passing yards (4,718) and touchdown passes (38).
Eight times an OU quarterback has thrown for 400 yards in a game. Jones accounts for half (four), including tying the school record with 468 yards in a win over Oklahoma State.
"What I learned the most was how to prepare for games, the way I watched film, how detailed I was taking notes," Jones said. "That really helped me as far as playing the way I was capable of playing."
By the end of the season, Jones will likely own most of OU's passing records, surpassing Jason White and Bradford, who each won a Heisman.
"He's in the same mold as those guys," Stoops said. "But he's got to go out and do it ... He realizes the importance that he has the ball in his hand every single snap. His mistakes need to be minimal."
Following road losses at Missouri and Texas A&M last season, some fans questioned whether Jones should be OU's quarterback of the future. He won over most of his detractors when the Sooners finished the season on a five-game winning streak.
Jones capped off one of the best seasons by an OU quarterback with an Offensive MVP performance in a 48-20 romp over Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl to end the Sooners' BCS bowl losing streak.
The big question for Jones — and the Sooners — is, how will they fare on the road?
Jones is 4-5 as a starter in true road games.
Two of OU's biggest three games are on the road — Sept. 17 at Florida State and Dec. 3 at Oklahoma State.
What's the key to having success away from Norman?
"Learning how to continue to play this game and not ride the wave of being on the road, the highs and lows," Jones said. "I want to be the 'Steady Eddie' kind of guy. That's one of the deals with playing quarterback."