CLEVELAND, Ohio — To refer to the last month of Cardale Jones’s life as surreal would not do it justice. When your first career start comes against Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship, and when you then defeat Alabama and Oregon on your way to a national title in the first ever College Football Playoff, stronger words are needed.
In the span of four weeks, Jones went from a guy known more for his questionable tweets than his football ability to a possible first round pick in the NFL Draft, a guy whose stock is arguably higher than that of Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariotta. If it all sounds insane, that’s because it is.
With Ohio State’s quarterback situation utterly unsettled for the 2015 season, with Heisman candidate J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller both possibly coming back to compete for the starting job, many felt like it was now or never for Jones to jump to the pros. But in front of a few hundred people packed into a small gym at Ted Ginn Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, with Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” blasting from the speakers, Jones shocked everyone by announcing he’ll be returning to school.
“My education is going to take me ten times further than my athletic ability,” Jones said, commenting that when he is done with football, he’d like to become a financial planner.
Jones repeatedly mentioned completing his education and getting his degree as the main reasons why he will return to Columbus. Although he admitted that the prospect of securing his family’s financial future (he has a young daughter) by entering the NFL Draft was tempting, he reiterated his belief that a college degree would do more for him that a football ever could.
“He really understands how the world works and he showed that by the decision he made,” said Ted Ginn Sr., his former football coach at Glenville High School.
To those who will call his decision a mistake, Jones had some words. He just couldn’t say them out loud. “I can’t say what I want because I’m on TV,” Jones said with a smile. “But it’s my life to live.”
Jones heads back to the Buckeyes, ready to compete with Barrett and Miller to lead OSU to another championship. He didn’t feel ready to make the jump to professional football, but Jones was brimming with confidence about repeating as national champions. “I’m not worried,” he said. “It’s nothing for us to go back out and do what we did again.”