So much for a muddied quarterback situation in Columbus becoming a little clearer.
Earlier Thursday, Cardale Jones sent out a tweet that seemed to indicate that he would be leaving Ohio State for the NFL draft. Instead, after pushing the announcement back an hour, Jones stunned some (most?) observers by confirming that he will be returning to the Buckeyes for his redshirt junior season in 2015.
“I don’t know why you guys made it a big deal. It was very simple for me, really” Jones said in regards to decision. “The NFL, after three games, it’s really out of the question for me. …
“I want to go back to school and compete for the [quarterback job]. I don’t want anything given to me.”
Jones, who infamously tweeted a couple of years ago about classes being pointless for football players, added, “being a first-round draft pick means nothing to me without my education.”
With Jones’ return, it leaves, at least for the moment, the Buckeyes with the same quarterback conundrum they’ve had for the last month and a half: three quarterbacks who have proven they can be successful and win at the collegiate level, and just one starting job. Should OSU enter then exit spring practice with Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, in some order, on the depth chart, the drama from the outside will ramp-up significantly — as will the transfer talk.
Most of such talk, as it has been for the past couple of months, will be centered on Miller.
The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Miller sustained a season-ending shoulder re-injury during summer camp that opened the door for Barrett to put himself in the Heisman Trophy discussion and positioned the Buckeyes for their postseason run by going 11-1 as a starter before he went down as well. Barrett has already confirmed he’s coming back to the Buckeyes — that could change in the coming months, though, depending on how things play out — while Jones’ announcement this afternoon speaks for itself.
That seemingly leaves Miller, who has already been connected to Florida State (HERE), LSU (HERE), Oregon (HERE), as the only viable transfer option among the trio. Further buttressing that notion is the fact that Miller won’t be able to participate in spring practice because he’ll still be rehabbing — Barrett is expected to be recovered enough from his broken leg to at least participate in some capacity — which means he would ostensibly fall further behind Jones and Barrett in what’s expected to be a wide-open competition, one in which the least-experienced of the three, Jones, will likely be the favorite.
Could Miller just decide, regardless of how the competition plays out, he wants to spend his final season with the Buckeyes? That’s certainly possible. If he wants to finish out his collegiate career actually playing on the field instead of potentially holding a clipboard off of it, though, moving on from the Buckeyes may be his best option.
It’s hard to see OSU entering the 2015 defense of its 2014 title with all three of the quarterbacks still on the roster. Then again, it would’ve been hard to see the same team winning a title with its third-string quarterback, so anything, especially when it comes to the position, is possible in Columbus.