The man affectionately known as “Twelve Gauge,” decided not to pull the trigger on the NFL this year.
At a press conference, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones announced he would pass on the opportunity to declare for the NFL draft and return to Columbus next season. The decision comes just three days after Jones led the Buckeyes to a 42-20 win over Oregon in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
Jones’s brief journey with the Buckeyes had some folks scratching their heads, wondering if he was ready for the NFL. With only three career starts under his belt, Jones believed he had much more to gain by sticking around the college ranks.
The discussion from the beginning seemed somewhat perplexing. A kid, who was unknown to most of the world until six weeks ago, had the opportunity to turn pro without starting a single home game inside Ohio Stadium.
Then again, it was hard to imagine a third-string quarterback stepping into the spotlight and leading his team to three consecutive wins that included a Big Ten and national championship.
For now, the talks of Jones heading to the NFL will sit on the shelf for at least another season.
It’s impossible to criticize a student-athlete for deciding to stay in school, continue his education and develop and mature has a quarterback and a person. But you can’t help but believe this was a risky choice for the Cleveland native.
Coming back to finish his junior and senior seasons provides no guarantees for Jones. With his return to Ohio State, he will undoubtedly get a fair chance to battle for next season’s starting role, but it’s entirely possible he doesn’t win the job.
In 2015, Jones could be back on the sideline behind Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett. He may not see significant playing time for the Buckeyes in the near future, therefore killing all the hype and excitement he had after his trek to the title earlier this week.
For an athlete who has made such incredible strides and performed at the highest level when called upon, I sincerely hope that doesn’t occur.
In his press conference, Jones acknowledged that his education has the opportunity to take him further in life than his athletic ability. For someone who’s only a sophomore in college, it takes a lot of maturity to make that assessment. It tells me, and should tell the world, that regardless of his current talent level, Jones will be ready for the NFL, if he gets a second chance.
Jones is headed back to Columbus to continue to improve as a quarterback, hoping he gets an opportunity to lead the Buckeyes from the opening kickoff. He’s hoping to earn the right to call himself the starting quarterback. Jones wants to be on the field for more than three games.
His decision makes for an interesting quarterback challenge heading into the offseason, especially if Miller, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Playor of the Year, decides to stay with the scarlet and gray.
No matter what happens, Jones should be commended on his decision to continue with Ohio State, even if he is risking a career in the professional ranks. Today, “Twelve Guage,” called his own shot.
Now, let the world’s most intriguing quarterback controversy commence.