Sam Bradford

One of these days, we presume, Oklahoma will be led by a bad quarterback.

It’s becoming apparent, however, that our grandkids will be the only ones to see that come to fruition.

Seriously, when will the Sooners’ reign of quarterback dominance end? It’s like Bob Stoops made some deal with the devil — “Give me the best gun-slingers in the nation and, as a sacrifice, I’ll throw every bowl game unless we’re playing UCONN.”

The quality of Oklahoma quarterbacks keeps improving. And we’re not sure how. Last I checked, winning a Heisman Trophy and taking your team to the National Championship was as good as it gets.

The Sooners had two quarterbacks do that over the span of five years — Jason White in 2004 and Sam Bradford in 2008.

Now, they’re close to having another one, Landry Jones, do it again.

“When I played them as a freshman, they had a Heisman Trophy winner [Bradford] and now they have another one in contention,” said senior safety Blake Gideon. “They just reload every year, there’s never a bad year for them.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

This all started in 2000. Josh Heupel directed the Sooners to a 63-14 mauling of the Longhorns and then won the national championship over Florida State.

So then Nate Hybl takes over and everything is going smoothly until he gets hurt against Texas.

Longhorn fans rejoiced! Here comes Oklahoma’s backup quarterback!

Some guy named Jason White comes off the bench and completes 16 passes as OU wins 14-3.

Remember that.

Things go back to normal after Hybl comes back from injury and he leads the Sooners to a Rose Bowl win at the end of the 2002 season and is named the Rose Bowl MVP (because it was played on Jan. 1, 2003, he’s considered the MVP of the 2003 Rose Bowl. Just to clear things up.)

So Hybl finally graduates and then, to nobody’s relief, White makes Oklahoma nearly unstoppable. He won the Heisman in 2003 and beat Texas 65-13. White finished off the Longhorns again in 2004. Then he graduated.

The next two seasons resulted in a slight dip in production for Oklahoma quarterbacks. Rhett Bomar had some promise but never got to show it after being kicked off the team one week before he was set to begin his sophomore season for accepting payment at a car dealership that he did not technically do any work at. Paul Thompson, a wide receiver who hadn’t practiced at quarterback in a year, was forced to take over. All he did was quarterback the team to the Fiesta Bowl.

We’re not done with this predictable timeline just yet.

Some guy named Sam Bradford — who, if we’re keeping score, was a three-star quarterback coming out of high school — wins the job of starter before the 2007 season.

We know what he did.

There’s one specific moment of Bradford’s celebrated college career that ties this whole quarterback legacy back together. In 2009, in the Red River Rivalry, Texas cornerback Aaron Williams blitzed off the edge and crunched Bradford into the turf, reinjuring the same right shoulder that Bradford had hurt earlier in the season.

Texas hurts one Oklahoma quarterback, prompting the emergence of one who might be even better? Where have I heard that one before?

So be careful when you wish for an injury to Jones on Saturday, Texas fans. One of OU’s backups, Blake Bell, was a top quarterback in the 2010 recruiting class.

And you know how this story goes.

Senior Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, No. 12, captains the top-ranked Sooners this year and is on multiple awards' watchlists. Jones has emerged as a leader over the past two seasons as the starter.

Photo Credit: Corey Leamon | Daily Texan Staff

Landry Jones was unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight his freshman year after Heisman winner Sam Bradford was knocked out early in the season against Texas.

While he handled the pressure of being under-center for a premier college football program like Oklahoma well, it was still tough as the Sooners stumbled to an 8-5 record in 2009. Critics picked apart Jones’ performances and constantly compared him to Bradford.

“That year was humbling for Landry,” said wideout Ryan Broyles. “There was a lot of negativity coming in: ‘not Sam Bradford this, not Sam Bradford that.’ But he’s matured, mentally and physically. And now everybody’s bought in.”

Jones embraced the challenge of replacing Bradford in full force his sophomore year. He masterfully led the offense by throwing for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns, while carrying his team to a 12-2 record and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Connecticut.

Now in his junior season, Jones is the unquestioned leader of the preseason consensus no. 1 team in the nation, and a likely Heisman finalist.

However, it wasn’t an easy road to respectability. As a freshman he was very shy, and reluctant to step in and take the reins of the offense — but with each game the team won he gained more confidence, and it showed in his leadership on the field.

“It’s definitely hard,” Jones said. “It’s something that a lot of people overlook and just think as long as you’re the quarterback, you’re the leader. But you kind of have to earn that respect before you start and once you start playing, you learn some stuff on how to do things and you learn how to become a leader. In my couple of years starting, I’ve learned how to become a leader and I’ve learned how to motivate my teammates, kind of become accountable with them, kind of become relatable.”

That leadership ability is a big reason Oklahoma went on a five game winning streak at the end of last year, capping the season with the Sooners first BCS win since 2002.

“He’s just become a really strong leader,” said head coach Bob Stoops. “And now he’s more comfortable. ... The quarterback needs to be a leader. If he hasn’t played and earned the respect by performance and meeting challenges and then doesn’t have the confidence yet, it’s hard to be that guy. Well, he has all of that now and so he’s a true, true leader on this team. And a special one.”

Jones isn’t satisfied with just being a leader on the field — he wants to continue to get better as quarterback.

In order to improve on last year’s stellar numbers, Jones hit the film room looking to cut down on the 12 interceptions he misfired his junior season. He’s practiced on correct footwork, and cutting down on mental mistakes that caused the picks.

Jones’ time in the film room, as well as his work on the practice field could translate into a monster season, which could have him joining the ranks of Bradford and Jason White as a Heisman winner at the quarterback position for Oklahoma.

However, he would like to separate himself in one category from those two greats, and win a national championship.

“You can throw for a lot of yards, throw a lot of touchdowns,” Jones said. “But all that matters is whether you won or lost games.”