Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones announced he will return to Ohio State next season rather than applying to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Although the 6-foot-5, 250-pound sophomore has only three college starts to his name, there was heavy speculation that he would turn pro given that he might not even be the Buckeyes' starter next year if injured quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett return to form.
On that subject, however, Jones was clear that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer offered him no assurances about his competition against two more proven players.
"He didn't make me any promises. He told me what I had to do, what I had to improve on, and that's it," Jones said.
Today is the NFL deadline for underclassmen to file for draft eligibility, although those who file have 72 hours to withdraw without losing NCAA eligibility. Jones, a third-year sophomore, has two years of NCAA eligibility left.
Jones toiled in anonymity for most of his sophomore season but was elevated from third- to second-string when Miller was lost for the year in August with a shoulder injury. He was thrust into the Buckeyes' starting role after Barrett fractured his ankle against rival Michigan on Nov. 29. A week later, Jones helped OSU to a 59-0 Big Ten Championship Game win over Wisconsin, vaulting the team over Texas Christian in the College Football Playoff rankings and into the sport's inaugural four-team playoff. The following week, Jones took a greater command of the Buckeyes' offense into the Sugar Bowl and beat Alabama 42-35, then beat Oregon Monday in the national title game, 42-20.
In those three games, Jones completed 46 of 75 passes for 742 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions, and rushed for 90 yards. For the season, including some mop-up time as a backup, Jones was 56 of 92 (60.9 percent) for 860 yards and seven touchdowns.
"You get all the hype in the beginning, but you have to think it out. It's cool to say you're in the conversation as a first- or second-round draft pick after three games," Jones said.
But ultimately, his education played a significant role in his decision.
"In life after football, I want to be a financial planner. A football career is so short. ... After football I have my whole life to live," Jones added.
Prior to the announcement, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah weighed in on Jones' small sample of game experience via Twitter:
Now, Jones will seek to beat out Miller and Barrett as OSU's 2015 starter, and build on that three-game resume.
Immediately after the Oregon game, Jones indicated he was unsure if he would return to Ohio State in 2015, though the next day at the CFP's exiting news conference, he said he wasn't ready for the NFL. An NFC scout told CFB 24/7: Path to the Draft that scouting concerns about the 6-foot-5, 250-pound quarterback would include his adaptability to a pro-style offense, among other things.