In an era where money talks louder than anyone anywhere, National Champion Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones proved he could play the quarterback position and could've taken his talents to the league and taken the money. Instead, he chose to go back to Ohio State in 2015, a move that can only help him going forward.
Keep in mind, we're talking about the same kid who reminded us that college football players go to their respective school to play football, not school.
It's slightly ironic that he chose to stay in school as the hot commodity considering his old tweet, but if his decision to stay at Ohio State says anything, it's that talent can be pointless with maturity. And if there's anyone who's matured since that infamous tweet in October 2012, it's Jones.
But don't let that mistake you, Jones is as much of an NFL prospect now as JaMarcus Russell was back in 2007. How'd that work out again?
Yeah, there would've been some team in the league who would've mistakenly drafted him in the first round, yeah, Jones would've made more money than he does at Ohio State now, however Jones isn't NFL ready yet.
After riding the pine for two years, Jones came in for an injured J.T. Barrett, who came in for an injured Braxton Miller, and went 3-0 in his first three starts, all against ranked opponents and all in big, big games – Big Ten Championship, College Football playoff in the Sugar Bowl and the National Championship game.
Overall, Jones threw for a combined 860 yards with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions in the 10 total games he's played in, most of which in clean-up duty before his three starts.
In those three starts, Jones threw for 742 yards with five touchdowns and two picks, averaging a 64 percent completion percentage throughout the three starts. Not bad. Not entirely NFL good, but not bad.
"One of the most important things for me is to graduate," Jones said in his press conference on Thursday.
"When I make that decision to play in the NFL, I want to be done with school.
"My education is going to take me 10 times further than my athletic ability."
Gasp! He's growing up!
We can sit here and talk about how his decision to stay at Ohio State is great for his education and such, but let's be honest, like we've said before, while he's got the size and a possible NFL quality arm, he's not NFL ready after just three starts. Despite how big those games were, three starts aren't enough for any NFL general manager or scout to properly assess what he can and can't do. It also helps when you have a running back like Ezekiel Elliott to take some of the pressure off.
What hurts Jones the most is experience in the big stage and the fact that he plays under Urban Meyer, who's proven that his system is great in college, but not good for creating NFL quarterbacks. Jones may have went in the fourth or fifth round, pretty much on a gut feeling that he could possibly be something special with some development on an NFL bench and not Ohio State's.
In Monday's national championship, Jones looked like a young, raw quarterback with a lot of upside who still made young mistakes. Despite going 16-for-23 for 242 yards with a touchdown, he also had an interception in the second-half and two fumbles that helped Oregon stay in the game and rally back a bit.
If there's anything that can be said about Jones is that he's probably the big story of 2014. He's come a long way from not wanting to play school to "rocking it," as Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said and he's shown that he can hang with the big boys for a few big games.
But if he can do it for an entire season, or win a job over Barrett, who's returning from an ankle injury is yet to be seen.
He could be great, just not yet.
At least he's willing to play school now.
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