NORMAN — Two things Landry Jones probably looked for when he began to date his now wife, Whitney Hand: chemistry, a connection.
Two things Landry Jones had in his main receiver last year, Ryan Broyles: chemistry, a connection.
See a pattern?
When center Ben Habern was asked at Big 12 Media Days what Jones will need in order to replace Broyles, he laughed.
“He's a special talent you don't hardly ever see,” Habern said. “We have a lot of young guys that might not have the chemistry and connection Landry had with some of our older guys.”
But “might not” doesn't mean never. Look at Trey Metoyer. He's one of the youngsters that made a huge impact in the spring and was the most talked about OU freshman at media days. Habern doesn't think the five-star recruit even dropped a pass during spring ball. And look at Jones. He's a four-year starter that knows what it takes to be the leader of coach Bob Stoops' offense.
“We have an unbelievable talent with Trey,” Habern said. “He's got great hands and he's athletic and he can jump.”
Right now, Jones is learning a lot about his new set of receivers: their athletic ability, their personalities, their style.
“I'm confident enough to be able to be around this offense, be able to coach 'em up and really let them know what I expect out of them,” Jones said, “then also being able to get on the same page of how they like to run a route and how I want them to be run, as well.”
He referred to Metoyer as a “kind of a blue-collared kid: hard working, easy to be around, pretty laid back.”
Senior cornerback Demontre Hurst even talked about the impact of Metoyer on the Sooners.
“He's been making progress,” Hurst said. “He's been getting better. He's a ball hawk so I think he's going to come in and make big plays.
“Everyone's excited about him. I had a chance to go against him a couple of times. He got me and I got him. I respect his game.”
But will the fate of the Sooners receiving yardage can't be left in the hands of one freshman trying to replace one senior, who happened to be one of the best in program's history?
Right now, OU's quarterback is counting on all the new receivers but, most certainly, an old one.
“Kenny Stills,” Jones said of the only returning receiver from last year. “He's not a new face but I'm excited about him coming back. Sterling Shepard. Durron Neal. Those guys are doing a great job for us right now.”
As for Metoyer and junior college transfer Courtney Gardner?
“Both good players,” Jones said. “Lot of big size, lot of athletic ability, lot of speed. Excited about those two guys coming in.”
Gardner has not qualified academically for OU yet. Juco transfer Lacoltan Bester was cleared last week.
So what will Jones do without Broyles?
He'll build two things with his new group of wide receivers that he's built time-and-time again — with his wife, with his coach, with Broyles.
“It might take a little time for Landry and them to get that connection, that chemistry,” Habern said. “But Landry's a guy that understands our offense, so he'll be able to push those young guys along.”