Despite the hype machine of the NFL draft working overtime and the intense competition waiting for him at Ohio State for the quarterback position, Cardale Jones made the right choice by deciding to stay for another year in college instead of trying his luck with a résumé of only three starts.
Jones might have earned himself a place in college football history – coming in instead of J.T. Barrett, the intended backup quarterback at the beginning of the season turning into a Heisman candidate, and winning the three biggest games of the season for Ohio State and in college football overall: The Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin, vs Alabama in the college football playoff semifinal and the national championship game against Oregon.
While there were the suggestions from people close to Jones, coaches at Ohio State and also Ted Ginn Sr., whose academy hosted Jones’ announcement about staying with the Buckeyes for his junior redshirt season, that he can be a late first-round or early second round pick and the third quarterback on the board behind Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, the decision to stay and get a degree while also trying to build a bigger CV than he has right now seemed to surprise a lot of people.
But Jones wasn’t likely to become a national figure before he arrived at college, or even way before that. This isn’t the case of someone born into the role of a star quarterback. Jones being in this position is unlikely, but he had the right people taking him in the right direction eventually. He isn’t taking anything for granted, and despite taking a risk that his football career, amateur or pro, has peaked when he led the Buckeyes to the 42-20 win in Arlington over the Ducks to win the national championship, he’s finishing what he came to school for, while believing staying on the squad will benefit him and his prospects of becoming an NFL quarterback.
Jones is impressive. He’s a big guy, athletic with a cannon for an arm. But he makes mistakes, doesn’t have the softest of touches. As some like to say – a raw prospect that needs a lot of polishing. These things often show in workouts and combines. Jones having such a short list of games he has actually played in doesn’t work in his favor, and staying another year in school, even if it means sharing the role or being the second guy behind Barrett is a risk he’s wise to take.
Ohio State have a loaded quarterback situation. Right now, Braxton Miller is coming back as well, although there is the constant talk of him transferring somewhere, with LSU being the most mentioned destination. J.T. Barrett probably has the lead for the starting position at the moment, but he’s the youngest of the three. Jones has proven he has what it takes in both ability and mentally to be the Buckeyes starting quarterback. Urban Meyer has a tough decision ahead of him. The dual quarterback option is also on the cards. No one was recruited to be a backup.