Sure, quarterbacks have gotten bigger over time, but Ohio State’s Cardale Jones takes the concept to another level.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound sophomore is every bit as big as those vitals indicate. There’s no media guide shenanigans here.
Jones, who will start for just the third time Monday against Oregon in the College Football Playoff National Championship at AT&T Stadium, is either too young or too naive. For whatever reason he seems to be taking his sudden burst of fame and prominence rather easily, including during the media day event at the Dallas Convention Center on Saturday.
Jones threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns in Ohio State’s Big Ten Championship rout of Wisconsin and followed with 243 yards and a touchdown against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Before taking over for injured starter J.T. Barrett, Jones had completed just 10 passes for 118 yards in very limited action. Jones had been third string behind Braxton Miller and Barrett before an injury sidelined Miller before the season started.
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Ohio State rushing leading Ezekiel Elliott said Jones’ size has been a difference on third downs.
“He’s able to make the defense spread out, and when he gets a full head of steam going not many guys want to get in front of him and try to tackle him,” Elliott said. “His ability to just break tackles and convert those third-and-1s, it’s been very key.”
Jones is still getting used to the extra attention.
“Just not being able to walk anywhere and go out in public without someone recognizing me,” he said. “Someone wanting to take a picture or get an autograph. I don’t mind that, but it’s still unreal right now. You really want my autograph? A picture with me?”
A big game Monday night and Jones will be kissing babies in Columbus.
Players need to be focused before a game, especially when it’s for the national championship. That’s why Jones blocked every contact in his phone except his coaches and mom.
“It took me about 40 minutes to block everyone,” he said. “I wanted to eliminate as many distractions as possible.”
Including, even, his teammates.
“I’m sure he had them thinking of ‘SEC this and SEC that. I’m so tired of hearing that …’ You know they took the field with a chip on their shoulder. Now everyone is patting them on the back and telling them how great they are. I’m interested to see what motivational tactics he uses this time against Oregon. Maybe that Vegas has them as an underdog, maybe he’ll use that.” — ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, a former quarterback at Ohio State, on Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760