When Ohio State freshman sensation J.T. Barrett went down with a leg injury against Michigan on November 29, Ohio State fans were stunned. They just lost their quarterback who filled in for senior Braxton Miller. Barrett played so well throughout the season, Ohio State was looking at a spot in the first College Football Playoff, and Barrett was also on some people’s Heisman ballots. In comes the redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones. Cardale already had some media attention his freshman season when he sent out an ill-advised tweet saying he came to Ohio State football and not go to class.
Nobody knew what they were going to see out of Cardale but he kept the Wolverines from pulling the upset. A week later, Jones started his first career game in the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin. Cardale led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 win. He was 12-17 with 257 yards and 3 touchdowns. The performance by the Buckeyes and Jones led the committee to put the Buckeyes as the forth seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff. He wasn’t finished, though. Ohio State had to face Alabama, and not much football fans were giving the Buckeyes a chance. Ohio State got off to a slow start, but they shook off the nerves and defeated the #1 ranked team in the country 42-35. Of course we all know what happened in the national championship. In case you don’t, the Buckeyes routed the Ducks 42-20.
This meteoric rise by Cardale Jones, or 12 gauge, is almost unheard of. A third string quarterback comes in for the backup after an injury and leaves a potential NFL prospect. At 6’5″ and 250 pounds, he has the size and power that scouts look for in a quarterback. Jones has also said he can throw a football 85 yards. Three games is an extremely small sample size to judge a future NFL quarterback by, but he has done so well that people are considering him the third best quarterback in the draft behind Mariota and Winston. He certainly has a stronger arm than both of them and is a better runner than Winston. Scouts have said that, depending on workouts should he enter, he could possibly go as high as the second round.
Another reason he should go pro is because Ohio State is going to have a quarterback battle next season with the possibility of Miller and Barrett returning. Jones could end up where he started which is at the bottom of the depth chart. Why not get paid when you have the chance?
A lot of teams might be turned off by the small sample size, some teams might be encouraged by his physical gifts and size. Either way, Jones even said that he isn’t NFL ready. A team may just place him behind an aging veteran so he can develop.
This decision is a going to be a hard one for Cardale Jones to make, but whatever path he chooses, he is going to make the right one for him.