Cardale Jones

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Last updated: 04/06/2014 1:18 PM
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Cardale Jones: 'I Probably Should Have Been Out of Here'
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — To say that Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones has taken the long road to earning his coaches' trust would be short-selling the sheer number of side streets that he has traveled down on his way to becoming what his coaches have been fighting with him to become.

Be it an infamous and unbecoming tweet as a freshman that earned him a one-game suspension in 2012, or simply improper preparation for the role that he signed up for, Jones was at times his own worst enemy.

That mileage will always be part of his odometer, but now with those side streets in his rear-view mirror, Jones finally finds himself headed in the proper direction.

Cardale Jones
Photo by Dan Harker
Cardale Jones

"Cardale's done a great job," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said recently. "He has done nothing to deserve less reps with the ones right now. He's playing like a quarterback at Ohio State should."

Jones would be the first to tell you that that wasn't always the case. In fact, you'd have plenty of people trying to be the first to tell you that that wasn't always the case.

Just last week Urban Meyer said that Jones was "a guy who had a one-way bus ticket back to Cleveland about a year ago, with just his whole seriousness approach to academics, approach to lifestyle and approach to Ohio State football."

Much like Jones's turnaround, however, Meyer ended those comments with a turnaround of his own, saying that Jones has "had a tremendous spring and without question he can play quarterback at Ohio State."

That confidence from the coaches hasn't come easily, and has only happened because of the work to which Jones has finally decided to dedicate himself. And that only happened after seeing the amount of work that was required of the guys ahead of him, even the backup.

"That's where I learned everything from, is from Kenny Guiton," Jones said on Saturday. 

"Kenny Guiton actually put me in that hard position because he was the model backup and I was nowhere near Kenny Guiton. So he put me in awkward conversations with our coaches trying to live up to him and fill his shoes."

Even seeing those expectations first hand, Jones was slow to apply the lessons to himself

Sometimes the best thing that a player can do is simply get out of his own way, whether that means they stop trying to make something happen that won't, or stop being the impediment in the progress that they are capable of making.

A year ago Jones wasn't sure whether he would stop trying to make Ohio State happen for himself, or if he would simply get out of his own way. To expedite the situation one way or the other, however, Meyer sat down with Jones and his family last year and laid everything out for them.

"I was almost out of here," Jones said. "The growing up process was helpful and it came from the coaches believing in me and keep pushing me.

"We had a sit down with my family to talk about what they expected of me and what I wasn't doing. So for me to become a quarterback that they feel like I should be, I wasn't meeting those standards at that point in time."

That talk was a reality check for Jones, but it wasn't his first. The plan now, however, is for it to be his last.

"I'm not gonna lie, I've had a lot of reality checks coming from our coaches," he said. "That's why I feel like I owe them in a big way because in my opinion I probably should have been out of here, but they stuck with me and they trusted me.

"They just kept believing in me and kept pushing me. Coach Tom Herman would always tell me that he believed in me, but I've just got to change and I've got to change, and that change is in process."

Had it not been for Herman, Jones would not only not be the player he is currently, but it's likely that he also wouldn't be a Buckeye any longer.

Herman's impact on Jones's life is no small thing for the quarterback.

"The biggest probably next to my mom and Coach Ginn, it's probably Coach Herman," he said. 

"He stood on a table for me. He put his neck out there for me. I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to repay him for that. But he has a huge impact on my life right now.

"I feel like I don't want to let him down. Letting him down is letting our team down, and letting our team down is letting Buckeye Nation down, which is something I don't want to do."

As long as Jones continues down the road that he is currently on, his coaches will be just fine with him. While he believes that he is lucky to still be a Buckeye, if he becomes the player that his coaches believe he can be, then they may end up being just as fortunate as he is.

The path that Jones has taken hasn't been the most advantageous, as many have strayed down side streets never to return, but now that he is headed in the proper direction, his destination is simply a straight shot. He just needs to stay on it.

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