The Sooners coaches' secret is out: They're recruiting another quarterback.
And not just any old quarterback, either. This one just so happens to be Cameron Newton, the top-rated junior college recruit in the country.
Newton, hailing from Atlanta by way of the University of Florida and Blinn College, is one of those tantalizing physical specimens coaches and pro scouts drool over–rocket arm, quick and just plain big. Think Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell, etc.
He's a stud, but let's acknowledge a subtle message behind the juco's recruitment. As good of a prospect as Newton may be, Bob Stoops wouldn't be putting the full-court press on him if the OU coaching staff considered incumbent Landry Jones a surefire star in the making. I doubt that's lost on Jones.
Jones' habitual woes on the road didn't seem so out of the ordinary for a redshirt freshman. More troubling was the lack of progress he displayed in what was essentially a full season as a starter.
For example, in November games against Nebraska, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, the 'Stache had an average passer rating of 92.0. For the year, he had a passer rating of 129.3, ranking 62nd in the country. His 13 interceptions placed him 88th overall.
Even for a youngster, those numbers are cause for concern. Thus, bringing in Newton to compete for the job sounds smart in theory.
The problem Stoops & Co., though, is the potential fallout if Newton decides not to call Norman home.
Can Jones develop into championship-caliber quarterback? The best answer I could give is a timid "Maybe."
Will the Newton recruitment mess with Jones' head? Almost assuredly.
Even if Newton spurns OU for a place like Mississippi State, Jones will be left with the feeling that the Sooner coaches just don't think he can get it done. For a college-age kid, that can be a confidence killer.
Judging by how jittery Jones looked at times on the field this season, confidence is something he could use more of. Now that the news about Newton is out, building Jones' psyche back up sounds even more daunting.