Ohio State junior quarterback Cardale Jones doesn't appear as if he is willing to rest on his laurels.
Jones burst onto the national scene with eye-opening performances in the Buckeyes' march to the national title. Jones saw appreciable time in just three games last season -- but they arguably were the three biggest games of the season. He replaced injured starter J.T. Barrett and threw for 742 yards and five TDs in a Big Ten championship game victory over Wisconsin, a national semifinal win over Alabama and a national championship win over Oregon.
But Jones says he is just one of the guys, along with Barrett and Braxton Miller, in the race to be the Buckeyes' starting quarterback. "I'm working harder than ever," Jones told ESPN.com. "I understand that I want to be the starting quarterback of this team, but I know I have two guys in front of me who are working just as hard."
Barrett, who will be a sophomore this season, became the starter after Miller -- a two-time Big Ten player of the year -- suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in fall camp last year; Barrett threw for 2,834 yards with 34 TDs and rushed for another 938 and 11 TDs before being injured in the regular-season finale against Michigan. Barrett accounted for 45 TDs, which set a Big Ten single-season record.
Miller will be a senior this season, and while he would be eligible elsewhere as a graduate transfer student, coach Urban Meyer has said he expects Miller to stay at Ohio State. Jones obviously expects that, as well. And he points out -- correctly -- that he was going to be the third-teamer last season; when Miller was injured, Barrett beat out Jones for the starting job.
"I didn't beat out J.T. ... I didn't beat out Braxton," Jones told ESPN.com. "Unfortunately both guys got hurt, and luckily enough I was prepared to try to take advantage of the situation."
All three have shown they are extremely talented college quarterbacks and it's difficult to see any of them being happy with being a third-string quarterback; that remains the situation and will remain a storyline throughout the season.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.