The Spectacle of Cardale Jones

Even the most casual of college football fans will remember that the 2014-2015 season was a marquee year. After many long years of questionable championship games dominated by SEC teams, prayers were answered and the College Football Playoff was put into place. Perhaps the most intriguing story line heading into the playoff was No. 4 Ohio State’s quarterback situation. With starter Braxton Miller sidelined since the preseason and successful backup J.T. Barrett out with a broken ankle, the eyes of the football world were placed on Cardale Jones, the relatively unknown third stringer. However, it did not take long for America to learn his name. Starting just his second game, the Sugar Bowl, against the top-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide, Cardale displayed a rocket arm and a commanding pocket presence in the 42-35 OSU victory. Jones continued his hot streak into the National Championship game where the Buckeyes manhandled the Oregon Ducks, 42-20.

The reason why Cardale was only “relatively” unknown before the 2014 season is because he has always seemed to have an outspoken character. Some may remember the small controversy he started back in 2012 when he tweeted his distaste for academics, claiming that football players should not have to attend classes. Since then it appears that Jones has matured, but not lost his loud personality. In January he generated a large media buzz, holding a press conference at his Cleveland high school just to announce that he would not enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Since then, Cardale has been a must-follow on Twitter. Whether it be his public admiring of UFC star Ronda Rousey or showing off how bad he beats kids at Xbox during hospital visits, Jones never fails to entertain.

Entering the 2015-2016 season, Ohio State had one of the best problems a team could have: three starting caliber quarterbacks. Before the season, Braxton Miller transitioned to wide receiver, leaving  Jones and Barret to fight for the starting job. Before the season opener against Virginia Tech, Jones was named the starter but Barrett has still been given playing time. However, for the first four weeks of the season, Jones hasn’t been able to show the magic that he displayed the previous year. OSU has faced very little quality competition so far, but Jones has not lit up the scoreboard like many expected. His most cringe-worthy performance came in week 3 against Northern Illinois where he threw two interceptions in only nine passing attempts.

Considering the potential that Cardale has shown on the field, he has generated a good amount of excitement in NFL circles. Pro scouts love quarterbacks that can push the ball vertically down the field the way Jones has shown. Pair that with a massive 6’5 frame, and you have all the physical qualities of a prototypical quarterback. While having many positive physical traits, Jones has yet to prove that he can produce at a high level on a consistent basis. Despite appearing as a risky prospect, no one should be surprised if a team takes a shot on Jones in the first round of next year’s draft. The current quarterback situation in the pros is dire. Teams without so-called “franchise quarterbacks” simply cannot contend for titles, meaning that it only takes one team to take a gamble on Jones.