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Ohio State's Cardale Jones doesn't regret staying in school

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Ohio State junior quarterback Cardale Jones hasn't spent all that much time in the spotlight, but the glare has been incredible.

The spotlight will be on him again this fall at Ohio State, though there was a thought that he might have been better off turning pro after his glorious three-game run as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback. Jones' only three starts last season came in Ohio State's three biggest games: the Big Ten championship game over Wisconsin, the national semifinal win over Alabama and the national championship game victory over Oregon.

He told ESPN.com he had no regrets about staying in school.

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Jones was a third-year sophomore last season, and as such, was eligible to turn pro. He didn't have much time to make a decision: The national championship game was Jan. 12, and the underclassmen declaration deadline was Jan. 15. He decided to remain in school and become part of what now is a three-man race to be the starting quarterback. The other competitors: Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, whose injuries opened the door for Jones.

"I don't know; I always say that if I had more time, maybe it would have been a different decision," Jones told ESPN.com. "But in my personal opinion, having more time, I would have had a chance to weigh the pros and cons of coming back to school as well.

"My main thing was coming back to school to graduate so that when I do have a chance to go to the NFL, I don't have to worry about taking classes in the offseason. I want to be done with school when I'm done with school so I can devote all my time to being a great father and NFL quarterback."

Jones certainly has the potential to be an NFL quarterback. He has a huge right arm and prototypical size (6-foot-5, 250 pounds). He also is at the helm of a potent spread attack, and while his running ability isn't as good as Barrett's or Miller's, he still can be a weapon with his legs. Still, it's his right arm -- he is nicknamed "12 Gauge" -- that is his biggest attribute.

But he has thrown just 94 college passes and remains raw. Whether he gets the needed game reps is the biggest positional storyline in college football this year. Can he win the starting job outright? He says he is ready to continue to work toward the job.

"I've said it so many times: I can't see to tomorrow," Jones told ESPN.com. "I've got things lined up in my day to help me get to tomorrow, to make tomorrow better than today. I don't really look too much to the future; I just want to take in and embrace the moment I'm living in now."

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In all his years as a head coach, Urban Meyer never has had a passer with Jones' upside. He did coach Alex Smith, who became the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, at Utah, but Smith's arm strength pales in comparison to Jones'. But Jones' running ability isn't as good as Smith's, Barrett's, Miller's or Tim Tebow's, whom Meyer coached at Florida. Thus, if Ohio State coaches do choose Jones, some offensive tweaks are going to have to be made.

Truthfully, tweaks are likely, anyway, because line coach Ed Warriner has been promoted to coordinator to replace Tom Herman, who left to coach Houston. And coaches might be quite comfortable with any needed tweaks because of the presence of star tailback Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 37 percent of his 1,878 yards (696 of them) in the three games in which Jones was the starting quarterback.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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