Cardale Jones, the Cinderella Story quarterback who went from third-stringer to the man who led Ohio State to a National Championship over a three-game span, had a press conference at 4 p.m. today. Everyone assumed that Jones, who was eligible for the NFL draft and has definitely showed the cannon-powered arm that NFL teams covet, was going to announce that he was leaving the Buckeyes to turn pro.
Not so. Cardale Jones surprised just about everyone by announcing that he was staying in school. He said: “I don’t know why you guys made it such a big deal,” and added “the NFL after three games was really out of the picture for me.” That’s a very sensible, mature perspective for a 22-year-old who could be expected to have a swelled head after being the talk of the sports world during his improbable rise to stardom.
But that’s not all that Jones said, and did, that was remarkable today. He also mentioned that he didn’t expect to be handed the starting quarterback job and just wanted a chance to compete for it against Braxton Miller, who was out all season with an injury, and J.T. Barrett, who played brilliantly before suffering a brutal injury that ended his season and gave Jones his chance. It’s refreshing to see that Jones doesn’t feel that his three-game blitzkrieg entitles him to special treatment.
So why did Jones have a press conference to announce that he was staying in school? The location of the presser was the Ginn Academy in Cleveland, a school that caters to inner-city kids and tries to give them a quality education and a future. By having the press conference there and announcing that he was going back to school, Jones tried to show some leadership and demonstrate to the kids of Cleveland that he values an education. That’s a very impressive effort by a guy who, before the last month, was known mostly for an ill-advised tweet he sent years ago about not coming to Ohio State to “play school.”
I don’t know whether Cardale Jones will ever be a star NFL quarterback — but I really don’t care about that right now. I think his actions today show he is a pretty good person who has grown a lot, and that really is a lot more important.