Jones Will Get First Crack at Backup QB Position
By Patrick Murphy
Braxton Miller’s decision to return for his senior season was big news for Ohio State, but the quarterback will be missing his reliable backup.
The way Miller plays, the Buckeyes may need another dependable quarterback like Kenny Guiton. Guiton’s eligibility is used up, so finding a backup is a large priority for the Buckeyes. According to offensive coordinator Tom Herman, redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones will get the first opportunity to take over Gution’s role as the second string quarterback because he is the most senior of the options.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"I think based on just pure game experience and the fact that he's been in the program, I think Cardale Jones needs to earn the right to take the very first rep with the second team,” Herman said last week. “How many he'll get from that point forward, or how short or long his leash is will be up to him.”
Herman said this before it was announced Miller would have minor surgery on his throwing shoulder that is expected to limit him in spring practice. This could open the door for Jones to take the first team reps, but only if he proves he deserves it.
Jones comes from the fruitful Cleveland Glenville pipeline, but had a year at Fork Union Military Academy before enrolling at Ohio State. He redshirted his first year in Columbus before seeing time in cleanup duty last season.
In order to win the right to backup Miller, the 6’5”, 250 pound Jones needs to display that he can be a dependable quarterback and demonstrate the maturity of a player three years removed from high school.
“Cardale needs to show consistency,” Herman said. “He's got a ton of physical talent.”
Jones had issues in the past, making the news during his redshirt year for a tweet stating that he didn’t come to play school and that classes are pointless. Since then, Jones has stayed out of the headlines and worked to improve as a player.
“He's a lot smarter than you think,” Herman said.
“He's kind of the class clown but I think he's grown up a lot and continues to grow up. All the things we've seen in the off-season and off the field now have to start translating onto the field and have his maturity coming through.”
Jones doesn’t have to look far to find someone who struggled early on with maturity only to become an important part of OSU history.
When Urban Meyer took over, Guiton was unimpressive and almost left the team because he was not doing the things Meyer believed his players should. Number 13 was able to right the ship and keep Ohio State undefeated in 2012 and 2013.
Now number 12 has an opportunity to make his mark in spring practice.
"I think that will show in his consistency,” Herman said. “He's a good player. He just needs to mature because he's a lot smarter and a lot more decisive than maybe some people think.”
In minimal time last season, Jones demonstrated his abilities to make plays. He only completed one of two passes, but had 17 carries for 128 yards and one touchdown, similar to Guiton’s 2010 season.
Herman knows sometimes it takes time for a player’s head to catch up with their talent. No doubt he’s hoping Jones follows Guiton’s path and begins to create his own legacy this spring.