Everything Cardale Jones has done for the last six weeks has been a surprise, so why should his decision about the NFL be any different?
Jones’ announcement on Thursday that he would return to Ohio State next season caught most people off guard.
You don’t call a press conference to announce you’re staying, people said. Jones’ stock would never be higher, others said.
NFL draft gurus, like Mel Kiper Jr., said he could go as high as the second round, which is the land of $1 million guaranteed signing bonuses.
So, while it wasn’t quite as surprising as a third-string quarterback leading a team to a national championship, the decision to stay definitely was unexpected.
Common sense said all along that the three games Jones started – even though they appeared to show great potential – probably weren’t enough to make an NFL team spend a high draft choice on him.
On the other hand, NFL teams sometimes do crazy things in their search for quarterbacks.
Matt Flynn had started all of two NFL games when the Seattle Seahawks gave him a $26 million contract in 2012. And then he never started a game for them when Russell Wilson beat him out for the starting job as a rookie.
Jones made what would have seemed like the obvious choice before the euphoria of OSU’s national championship grabbed hold of the collective frontal lobe of Ohioans and convinced them he could and would go pro.
It turned out that the guy formerly known for putting something really dumb on Twitter and who sometimes takes big chances on the field might have a better grasp of the situation than most people did.
“The NFL after three games was out of the question for me,” Jones said.
He apparently has a lot of confidence. He obviously doesn’t see himself dropping back to No. 3 at quarterback next season at Ohio State.
Other people might see J.T. Barrett or Braxton Miller as the starter. Jones knows neither of those players will be at full strength in spring practice, so he will get unlimited time to work with the first team.
He must think that with a national title under his belt and all that practice he will be hard to dislodge.
Any way you look at it, he has placed a bet on himself that he will be worth more to an NFL team in 2016 than in 2015. You don’t do that without a lot of confidence.
This leaves Ohio State with three No.1 quarterbacks next season — Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Jones.
Jones said he received no assurances from OSU coach Urban Meyer that he would be the starter next fall and that Meyer was “a little shocked” when he told him he was coming back.
“He didn’t make me any promises. He told me what I have to do and what I have to improve on and that was about it,” Jones said.
Jones’ decision guarantees that two story lines will dominate Ohio State football for the next 7 1/2 months until the opener. No. 1, Can the Buckeyes repeat as national champion? No. 2, Who will be the starting quarterback and will all three of them be in an Ohio State uniform by the opener at Virginia Tech on Sept. 7?
Maybe after today, the best answer to the quarterback question is that whoever wins the job, it might turn out to be a surprise.