Monday, May 21, 2012
Most indispensable player: Oklahoma
By David Ubben
We're moving on in our series on the Big 12 blog pegging the single player each team in the Big 12 can't afford to lose. He's also the player who will be most responsible for the team's ultimate success.
2011 stats: 355-of-562 (63.2 percent) for 4,463 yards, 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Why Oklahoma can't afford to lose him: Knock him if you'd like. Talk about what he's not.
What he is? The most priceless player on Oklahoma's entire roster. That's even more true now with three of the team's top four returning receivers suspended. Are the Sooners anything close to a top-15 team without Jones, who's essentially a fourth-year starter in 2012?
His 15 interceptions -- three more than his sophomore season in 2010, which featured more attempts -- are alarming, but Jones is still the engine that made this offense go in 2011, even if Oklahoma's short passing game makes his stats look slightly inflated.
Jones has solid arm strength and accuracy that is criminally underrated only because he followed otherworldly Sam Bradford as the man behind center in the Sooners' offense. He's not quite the fiery leader, but over the course of his three seasons, which included a Big 12 title in 2010, he's earned the respect of his teammates and the legitimacy that few ever acquire.
Jones will be a fascinating player to watch in 2012. I've said it several times, and it's true: He probably has the most volatile draft status of any player in the Big 12. He could play himself into the top 10, top 5 or higher with a huge year, but he could also fall to around the third round or worse if he struggles.
How that plays is debatable. What's not debatable is how his role fits into Oklahoma's squad. He's the player it most can't afford to do without.