“You have a chance when that guy has that genuine excitement and feeling that he's ready for this, or wants it.”
Jones remembered feeling nervous, but also prepared for the unexpected call to action.
“In my mind that day, I was prepared,” Jones said. “Looking back at it ... I probably wasn't as prepared as I am now, knowing what I know now.”
It wasn't long before Jones played in Cowboys Stadium again; the second time, the Sooners rallied from a 17-point deficit, beat Nebraska and claimed the Big 12 championship during Jones' sophomore season.
Jones' senior year got off to a rough start — his turnovers were largely responsible for a Sept. 22 home loss to Kansas State — but since then, he's been mostly terrific. His late-game drives helped Oklahoma prevail in back-to-back November shootouts against West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
If things go according to plan, the Cotton Bowl Classic won't be his final game in Arlington. Jones likely will be picked in April's NFL Draft — possibly in the first round — and possesses the physical gifts required for professional-football success.
“I don't get sentimental about any one guy,” Stoops said. “Landry is special. We love him for sure. ... It's time. Every guy has his time in college and it's time for him to move on.
“He'll do well at the next level.”