OU vet Jones vs. A&M's freshman Heisman at Cotton


OU vet Jones vs. A&M's freshman Heisman at Cotton

IRVING, Texas (AP) Landry Jones is back where he made his Oklahoma debut, and again in the shadow of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Jones took over as the Sooners' quarterback in the first-ever college game at Cowboys Stadium, in the 2009 season opener when he replaced injured Heisman winner Sam Bradford after halftime.

Three seasons later in the same stadium, Jones will make his 50th and last career start. The 12th-ranked Sooners play the Cotton Bowl on Friday night against 10th-ranked Texas A&M and dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel, the first freshman to win the Heisman.

Jones has won 39 games while throwing for 16,368 yards and 122 touchdowns. There have been two Big 12 titles and three bowl victories, including the Fiesta Bowl.

``It's crazy, what a great quarterback he is,'' Manziel said. ``He's thrown for more than 3,000 yards every year. Just the things he's done at OU have been amazing. ... I was in high school for two years while he was in college. I'm a big fan. I think he's a great player.''

Manziel, meanwhile, burst on the scene in the Aggies' first SEC season with plenty of highlight plays and big numbers of his own.

The redshirt freshman known as Johnny Football has thrown for 3,419 yards with 24 touchdowns, and run for another 1,181 yards and 19 scores. His 4,600 total yards broke the SEC record, and he's only the fifth player with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season.

``It's a testament to what kind of player he is, what type of person he is to be able to come in and play as well as he did as a freshman,'' Jones said.

The Cotton Bowl matchup of 10-2 teams and former Big 12 rivals pits the steady veteran against the exciting 20-year-old freshman in only his 13th game but already with college football's highest individual award.

``He knows exactly what he can and can't do and he tries to do those things as well as he can, and certainly his ability to extend and create plays, there's not really a defense for that,'' Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said Tuesday.

Manziel got his chance as the Texas A&M starter after Ryan Tannehill was the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft last April. Aggies linebacker Jonathan Stewart remembers Manziel being erratic at times during spring drills, but saw a huge difference when fall practice got started.

``You could see him starting to try to be a true quarterback and not just a backyard quarterback, just trying to run around and improvise every single play,'' Stewart said. ``And then see him growing and growing all season, and then getting better and better every single week.''

Coach Kevin Sumlin announced Manziel as the starter two weeks before the season opener.

As a redshirt freshman, Jones was expected to back up Bradford, who as a sophomore the previous season won the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners made it to the BCS national championship game.

But Bradford injured his throwing shoulder when he was driven to the turf by a BYU defender in the opener. Jones took over after halftime and, except for two games Bradford played a few weeks later before leaving Oklahoma early for the NFL, has started every game since.

``Landry has had a long and great journey. It started here out of nowhere when Sam Bradford got hurt, and he genuinely could not wait for his opportunity,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. ``Through the year he did a great job in tough circumstances with the other guys around him that were hurt. He has grown and developed through the years. ... It has been special. He has been a great QB for us.''

Asked about his confidence going into any game with Jones, Stoops responded, ``We have great confidence in Landry and we recognize what a great quarterback Johnny Manziel is, but we love our quarterback as well.''

As much as the Aggies love Manziel.

Texas A&M, like Oklahoma, enters the Cotton Bowl with a five-game winning streak. That includes a 29-24 win at then top-ranked Alabama, the SEC champion playing in the BCS national title game next week against No. 1 Notre Dame, the last team to beat the Sooners.

``You've got one guy that's been doing it for a long time, then you've got Johnny, who's been doing it for a year. But I'm confident in Johnny because he plays with a motor,'' Aggies receiver Ryan Swope said. ``He's got a lot of confidence on the field. When the light's flick on, it's game time for him. He's been huge for us.''

Just imagine what Manziel might be able to accomplish in 50 starts if he keeps up what he's already doing.

``That will be interesting,'' Swope said with a smile. ``He's got a bright, bright career ahead of him.''

For Jones, the Cotton Bowl is the finale of the career when he holds Sooner records for wins, passing yards, TD passes, pass attempts and completions. His Big 12-record 16,368 yards are nearly twice as many as No. 2 Bradford's 8,403, and he's doubled the attempts and completions of Josh Heupel, now the Sooners' quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator.

``It's just been a ride. I'm extremely blessed to have come this far in my career and have a chance to end it where it started,'' Jones said. ``It's starting to hit me knowing that this is my last game, and wanting to go out on a positive note.

``I can still remember the first day and moving into the dorms and getting on campus,'' he said. ``It definitely has flown by.''

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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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Good news Redskins fans: Jason Pierre-Paul shipped out of NFC East


Good news Redskins fans: Jason Pierre-Paul shipped out of NFC East

The Giants shipped out Jason Pierre-Paul for life as a Buccaneer, and in turn, Tampa will send a third and fourth round draft pick to New York.

Moving Pierre-Paul comes at a curious time for the Giants. The team will eat $15 million of dead money in the move, and New York also sent a fourth-round pick to Tampa as part of the transaction. 

What it definitely signals is that Big Blue looks to be moving from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 look. Additionally, with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft in April, maybe the Giants will seriously look at NC State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb. 


For the Redskins, seeing Pierre-Paul leave the NFC East is welcome news. He has 12.5 career sacks against Washington QBs, the same amount he has against the Eagles and Cowboys combined. 

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