Interviews

Published on November 30th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford

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Former Ohio State Star QB, Cardale Jones Doubles-Down On Michigan “Hate Week”

There is no love loss for rival Michigan from former OSU star, Cardale Jones.

Not many collegiate athletes started their careers quite like former Ohio State University quarterback, Cardale Jones. His first start as a redshirt sophomore was during the Big Ten Championship game after starter, J.T. Barrett went down with injury. Not only did they go on to win the Big Ten Championship, but the following week they defeated #1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff and capped the season off with a National Title after dominating Oregon. Jones threw for 242 yards during the championship game. Not bad for a guy who started third on the depth chart that year. After finishing undefeated as the starter at OSU (11-0), Jones was selected in the 4th round pick by the Buffalo Bills. After stops with the Chargers and Seahawks, Jones will now be leading the DC Defenders of the XFL.

During my recent convo with, Cardale, we discuss the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, the success of former roommate and Saints stalwart, Mike Thomas, and he chimes in on the pros and cons of allowing college football players to earn money while in school.

You were out there for College Gameday for Penn State “hate week.” I’m sure those levels elevate times twenty for Michigan “hate week?”

Cardale Jones: Ain’t no comparison. There is too much history and bad blood between us and the team up there, so there ain’t no real comparison.

You have been there, what is it like on campus when OSU is prepping to play Michigan?

Cardale Jones: It’s intense, man because the whole week they highlight the history of the rivalry, they highlight the history of both schools and why it runs so deep. Especially in Ohio because way-way-way back in the day, the team up North used to just pound us. Things turned for the better in our favor. We’re on a nice little roll right now and we are definitely enjoying it.

What would you credit the success of this program to? Obviously, Urban Meyer is a great coach, but he’s gone now and, Coach Day haven’t missed a beat. Do you think it’s a matter of getting a lot of that talent in Ohio to stay in state?

Cardale Jones: Yeah! a key recruiting area is Ohio. They are known to have really good high school ball here in Ohio. So, a key recruiting area is Ohio. One of the things that I would imagine they focus on is keeping as much talent in the state as possible. And of course, we go out of state to find more guys around the country that want to play for the Buckeyes and a great coach. So, I think the key is tradition and the value that we have instilled in our players and the program is what make guys not only want to stay in state but make guys all across the country want to join the tradition and join the Buckeyes.

The string of quarterbacks that have came through that program is unreal. Troy Smith, Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, yourself, Dwayne Haskins and now Justin Fields. What are some of the things you learned while being in the system that makes that quarterback position so successful there?

Cardale Jones: I think we were blessed and lucky to be surrounded by some of the best athletes in the country at the time. I played with a guy named, Ezekiel Elliot, Mike Thomas, Devin Smith and Braxton Miller. Outside of the guys on the other side of the ball. Joey Bosa, freaking, Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore and them guys. They make our jobs a lot easier. We just go out there and play within ourselves. We don’t feel like we have to do too much. We never felt like we are the only guys out there that can make a play. So, just get the ball to the playmakers and they are a huge reason why us as individual quarterbacks and our stats, wins, loses and our success as quarterbacks. It had a lot to do with the playmakers that we were surrounded by.

Damn near the entire New Orleans Saints team is Buckeyes, so I definitely appreciate ya’ll.

Cardale Jones: (Laughing).

You were one of the fortunate guys that attended, Ted Ginn Sr. Academy and subsequently played at the prestigious Glenville High School in Cleveland. He is a special man. What made his system so special to have the success rate that he’s enjoyed from his athletes?

Cardale Jones: I think it’s because he was a local guy, him being a guy that we seen growing up being in the community doing positive things outside of football. The relationship he already had with a lot of our families. We knew we were going to a place where we would be loved and respected. Not only that, we knew we would be held accountable for our actions. Coach Ginn does an unbelievable job of getting the best out of players, and one of the reasons why is because, I feel that we feel that urgency of not only wanting to let him down but let our community down.

You were roommates with, Mike Thomas. He is and should be in the hunt for the NFL MVP award. Did you see him exploding like this once he entered the league or are you even shocked by his level of production?

Cardale Jones: Of course not. I did not. I would be a damn lie if I said I seen all of this that he’s doing right now while we were in Fork Union [Military Academy] or at Ohio State. Mike’s always been a great player. He’s a perfectionist, he’s always looking to get better, he’s always looking for that edge. He’s already physically gifted, but that mindset that he came into in college… I still didn’t think t would take him to the level that he’s playing at now. I’d be sitting here not telling the truth if I was like, “Oh yeah, I seen this happening. I knew he would break every freaking record.”

I like that realness. You know how many people would be saying that.

Cardale Jones: Oh, for sure. Of course, not. Actually, when me and Mike were roommates at that military school, we weren’t that close at all. We developed a decent relationship, but we were just so different. We weren’t as open minded. He was from the west coast and I was an east coast kid. So, a lot of similarities wasn’t there. We both had completely different experiences growing up. The only thing we shared any similarity of is being highly recruited athletes. And still we had our disagreements on certain things; Cali ball versus Ohio ball. I would be lying to you if I was sitting here saying, “Oh yeah, I saw this coming.” I knew Mike would be a good player and contribute to a team for a long time, but what he’s doing now, especially since he stepped on the scene, no freaking way.

Real talk. You probably had the greatest three game start in college football history. You were thrown into the fire in your first career start against #11 ranked Wisconsin, defeated them 59-0. Then you play #1 ranked Alabama and defeat them. Your third start was in the National Championship game against Oregon in which you guys won 42-20. And you handled in all so calmly. What an insane run.

Cardale Jones: I go back to the guys I was surrounded with. If things ain’t going good, guess what we can do, give the ball to Ezekiel Elliot (laughing). We were running behind, Taylor Decker, Jacoby Boren, Pat Elflein, freaking, Chase Farris and Darryl Baldwin. These are NFL name guys. I felt like, “Oh my God, don’t mess it up.” I didn’t feel the pressure of, “Oh, I gotta do this.” I was more like, “Shit, don’t mess this thing up,” because of how talented and good we were as a team already. People fail to realize how we really started to gel around that time. If it would have started to mess up, I would have been the odd man out because I was the new guy. I just played with the attitude of don’t mess it up. I didn’t have to do anything outside of my power, that I didn’t know how to do so…

You are being super humble. I’ll put it like this, what you came in and done, will never be duplicated. Do you ever reflect on not only your historic first three starts, but even having an 11-0 record as the starter for OSU?

Cardale Jones: I actually have not. I rarely reflect on my time in college. Just because, when people ask me, “Would you go back for your fifth year,” or, “Would you go back and play right now?” To this day I still say, “No.” I cherished not just winning and the things we set to accomplish, but I cherished most of all, the relationships that I built with them guys. So, if people ask me if I would go back and play right now. I say, hell no, because my guys ain’t playing. Now, if I could go back and play with all my guys, of course. Why not? When I got in college, man… and I tell guys this all the time, I was probably one of the very few players who experienced college in both aspects of light as far as not being the guy and late in your career and knowing, “Okay, it’s time to get ready for the real world,” to jumping right into that aspect, “Okay, now I have the opportunity to play in the NFL.” I seen both sides of it, not being the guy. Eight of ten college stories you hear of highly recruited guys just goes through the motions in college or doesn’t live up to his potential because of a guy in front of him or injuries or just getting beat out. And then hopping on the scene to just be “the guy.” I have seen both aspects. I got a different view on my experiences and that’s the things I care more about than just playing football.

You ever thought about transferring from Ohio State?

Cardale Jones: Yeah, I thought about transferring because the competitive side of me wanted to play. I told our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach at the time, was a guy named, Tom Herman who is now the coach at the University of Texas. I told him mid-season, man… a lot of people don’t realize how close that battle between me and J.T. Barrett was in the beginning of the season to win the job. So, I was always told, “Hey, the battles close, just stay ready…blah-blah-blah,” and I never got a chance to play. And rightfully so because out of nowhere, J.T. just got hot. He would have won the Heisman if he would have stayed healthy in my opinion. He was killing it. He was averaging 5 to 600 yards a game and 6 or 7 touchdowns. He was killing it. So, I was like, “This is his team for the next couple of years, I need to go find somewhere to play.”

I remember talking to, Coach Herman about it. And in a joking way, I knew exactly what he meant, he basically wanted me to stay there and fight through it. In all actuality, there was no fight because that guy was going to be the starter no matter what after the season he was putting on. But ironically 4 or 5 weeks later, he ended up going down and we made that run that we did. I kind of contribute a lot of that to, Coach Herman and the talk we had. I’m not going to share it or too much detail of the conversation, but I could have easily been mentally checked out of the season. I could have been like, “This is his team and I just gotta get ready to find my new school for next year,” and just not prepare and basically go through the motions. No, I was still preparing like the starter because of the conversation that me and Coach Herman had. I stayed ready and that conversation paid dividends to the success of the team after, J.T. went down.

What are your thoughts on college football athletes being allowed to profit off of their name and likeness now in some areas?

Cardale Jones: I think it’s a good idea, but it’s a slippery slope because, like I said, I’ve been on both sides of it. A college player in school busting his butt and not being recognized for getting guys ready. A lot of the times when we played teams with running quarterbacks or power quarterbacks, I was that guy. I was getting my ass blasted in practice for the success of the team. I had to play my role. But I would love to think that… and not just me, a lot of backup players and a lot of walk-ons, I would love to think that without my everyday hard work and me bringing my energy, my effort and my abilities to practice, them star athletes wouldn’t be doing that. I would like to think that. Is it going to be fair to them unsung heroes that is putting their bodies on the line just as much as any other guy, getting their heads banged in at practice every freaking day to not have the opportunity to capitalize on their likeness because maybe that guy in front of them is just that much better?

And you gotta think about your big guys up front too. Everything runs through them, but they don’t always get the credit. How is a lineman going to feel that he doesn’t get that credit, but he made that key block for that run or that pass? It’s a slippery slope. I agree that players definitely should get paid off of their likeness and whatever, but I think they need to find a better way to police it. Because one thing I would never want to encourage is jealousy within a program or guys looking at you sideways. It already happens in a way when, as a team you’re busting your ass and there is only one guy on the front page of Sports Illustrated. Now, you get money involved and it’s like, holy shit.

I never thought of it from that angle. That is a great point, bro. Lastly, the DC Defenders of the XFL have themselves a hell of a quarterback. It will be good to see you back on the field slinging that rock around. How do you feel and how are things going so far?

Cardale Jones: Ah man, I’m extremely excited. I actually was down there in your neck of the woods, Louisiana last week.

I did see you in a picture with, Joe Burrow.

Cardale Jones: Yeah, I had to go see my boy too. But our coaches flew us out there. Me and a couple of our receivers out there to get some time in together and some work in together for the first time before we head to mini-camp and OTA’s next week. It was great, man. I’m playing with a lot of great players, a lot of ability on both sides of the ball, and it’s a great opportunity. Not just for me but the whole league to further their careers.

I love when opportunities like this open up for guys to showcase their talents. How do you plan to capitalize on this opportunity?

Cardale Jones: Just get in there and do all that I can to contribute to the organization and the team on the field. And whatever happens-happens after that. I’ll be wrong if I said I was going in there to prove everybody wrong; I should be this, I should be starting somewhere. Nah, I’m going in here and taking advantage of my opportunity and having fun with it. I had a lot of that good Cajun food while I was down there too (laughing). It gets to the point where you gotta step back.

All facts there, my man (laughing). Hey man, best of luck to you in the upcoming season and I look forward to seeing you back on that field.

Cardale Jones: I appreciate it, man. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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