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NFL an option for Ohio State QB Cardale Jones

Cardale Jones has made only three starts for Ohio State but is draft eligible and could wind up back on the bench next season.
Cardale Jones has made only three starts for Ohio State but is draft eligible and could wind up back on the bench next season.
Published Jan. 14, 2015

DALLAS — While Urban Meyer was doing most of the talking, Cardale Jones owned the room.

Ohio State's rising star QB was all big grins, silly smirks, rolling eyes and mischievous glances Tuesday, the day after he helped the Buckeyes roll Oregon 42-20 to win the first college football playoff national championship.

Jones said he's not ready for the NFL. But after three college starts, the 22-year-old third-year sophomore is in a unique position: Should he stay or go?

"Cardale's brand right now has never been stronger, might never be stronger again in his life," Meyer said.

On the other hand, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder from Cleveland is still a raw — though enticing — prospect.

"I'm amazed at the speed and quickness he has for a guy that weighs over 250 pounds," said former NFL executive Gil Brandt, now an analyst for the NFL Network.

"But his passes, some are on the money, some are low, some are high and some are wide."

Jones is eligible for early entry to the NFL draft because he is more than three years removed from graduating high school. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Thursday.

Brandt said Jones has the talent to be selected, probably in the back half of the seven-round draft, but he would be better served developmentally by another year of college football.

But there is the rub: Ohio State could have three star quarterbacks on the roster next season with Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller. Jones is not guaranteed to be the starter.

It's a strange position for Jones to find himself. In August, he was the Buckeyes' third-stringer. But after Miller hurt his shoulder in the preseason and Barrett broke his ankle against Michigan, it was up to Jones to lead Ohio State the rest of the way.

In three games against Wisconsin (Big Ten championship), Alabama (Sugar Bowl semifinal) and Oregon, Jones was 46-of-75 for 742 yards passing and five touchdowns.

"I mean, it's very odd," Jones said of going from Meyer's doghouse to considering an NFL career in such a short time. "You know, I'm going to be starting three games in three years, and you know, guys play their whole career to have that buildup and have that motivation to play in the NFL.

"In my personal opinion, I'm not ready for that level yet. I mean, like Coach Meyer said, it's a conversation me and him will have later down the road. But to me right now, it's far out."

NO REGRETS: Heisman Trophy-winning QB Marcus Mariota said Monday's loss shouldn't diminish what Oregon accomplished as a team.

"Being the champions from the Pac-12, being Rose Bowl champions, that says a lot about what we were able to do this year," the junior said. "Proud of the guys. We fought through a lot of stuff and just ended up short, but it shouldn't take away from what we were able to do this year."

CAMPUS REVELRY: Ohio State fans took to the streets after their team's championship victory, yelling and screaming in delight, setting nearly 90 fires and tearing down an Ohio Stadium goal post. Police made a handful of arrests after using tear gas and pepper spray to disperse crowds of students and other fans following the Buckeyes' win.

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TV RATINGS: The game averaged nearly 33.4 million viewers on ESPN. The network said that's up 31 percent from the almost 25.6 million for Florida State's win over Auburn last year in the final title game of the BCS era.