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Cardale Jones is a Changed Man
By Patrick Murphy
Cardale Jones has made drastic changes lately on his way to the national championship
Photo by Jim Davidson

For Cardale Jones, the decision to return to Ohio State for his redshirt junior year was pretty simple.

“It was an easy decision because of the limited time that I had to decide and weigh out my pro options,” the Buckeyes’ quarterback said on Friday while talking with ESPN’s Mike & Mike. “So the benefits came from returning to school more than going pro.”

After OSU’s improbable run to the national championship, Jones, who made his first three career starts in the postseason, had three days to decide his future. With a crowded quarterback room and stock that’s through the roof, most people would have made the jump. Not the self proclaimed 12 Gauge.

“I stayed because of academics,” Jones told NBCSN’s Dan Patrick. “I stayed because I want to be around my teammates and continue to grow with them. And I stayed just to be at THE Ohio State University.”

Before Jones’ first start against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, most around the country only knew him for a tweet he sent out in October of 2012 complaining about athletes having to attend class. Two years and a national championship later, Jones has changed his tune.

“I never thought it was cool not to play school,” he said in reference to the tweet. “Not to pay attention and not to take my schooling seriously. It was just a stupid thing at the time. I always took my academics seriously but it wasn’t like that tweet made me realize how important school is to my life.

“That tweet was just something that happened at a dumb point in my time. Many people don’t know, I tweeted that tweet after receiving a B+ on a Sociology exam.... I wasn’t raised that way. It was something dumb.”

Now Jones states one of the reasons he returned to Ohio State for another year is because of school. He thinks earning his degree will better him for the rest of his life, while football only lasts so long.

“The ultimate goal and my ultimate goal at football is to guide me to higher education,” he explained. “So leaving before I graduate, or leaving before I had more of my academic career complete… I feel like I made the right decision.”

Jones also understands the importance of being ready when taking the next step. The morning after being crowned national champion, Jones was asked about his future and stated that he didn’t believe he was ready for the NFL.

Now that he’s decided to return to school, announcing it in a press conference he said was not his idea, Jones has to focus what’s next. He is under no delusions that just because he won the national championship means he will be the starting quarterback next year. With quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett both possibly returning, Jones knows he will have to win the battle to keep his position.

“He didn’t guarantee me anything,” Jones said of head coach Urban Meyer. “He didn’t guarantee no one else anything, starting spots. He just told us that the hardest working player would get the spot.

“No promises, no guarantees were made to me if I return for this next season.”

Things have come full circle for Jones. After a rough start at Ohio State, he is now the Columbus golden boy. In a few short weeks, Jones went from backup to starter and from a relative nobody to giving two interviews on two of the biggest sports networks in one day. The matured quarterback credits the team he led to a championship for his change.

“Just understanding my role on the team and how important I was on the team,” he explained. “Because when I first got in to Ohio State, I didn’t think I was that important so that kind of curved some of my intentions and some of my actions.”

If he didn’t know how important he was to the Buckeyes before, Cardale Jones certainly does now.

Player profiles relevant to story:
12 - Jones, Cardale
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