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Cardale Jones decides to return to Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State was left for dead three times during the 2014 season, but it ended the year on its third quarterback of the season and still national champions. That third quarterback was redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones, who went 3-0 in the three starts he got.

He led the Buckeyes to wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon en route to the national title, and that performance led many to speculate he would wind up taking his talents to the NFL. After all, he could be forced back to the bench next fall anyway.

Ohio State got good news for its quarterback depth though, as Jones announced he would stay with the Buckeyes on Thursday afternoon.

Jones didn’t have long to make a decision about his future, as the NFL Draft deadline for early entrants came just three days after the national championship win.

The story of Cardale Jones’ rise to the top of the college football world is a whirlwind one to say the least. He was beaten out for the starting job by redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett after shoulder surgery to preseason Heisman trophy frontrunner Braxton Miller took his season away.

Barrett went on to start all 12 Big Ten contests and rack up 2,834 yards and completing 64.9 percent of his passes. He also ended his season with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions before sustaining an injury in the third quarter of the regular season finale against rival Michigan.

That opened the door for Jones, who many doubted could lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship, let alone a national title. However, the redshirt sophomore exploded on the scene in an unforgettable three-game stretch.

Jones showed no fear in the Big Ten title game, completing 70.6 percent of his passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns in the 59-0 blowout win. It was a win that got them in to the College Football Playoff and a date with No. 1 Alabama.

As the underdog in that game, Jones led OSU with 243 yards and one touchdown to go with an interception, showing that he could be the complementary piece to a powerful running game as well. Ohio State and Jones would run the postseason record to 2-0, but a date with Oregon in the national championship game would await the Buckeyes and him.

On the biggest stage of the season, Jones completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 242 yards and one touchdown to one interception again. He also had two fumbles to his name, but was a steadying force in the run game with 38 yards and a touchdown to his credit.

Jones ended his 2014 season with a 3-0 record and throwing for 742 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions in the three starts he had.

However, his Ohio State story clearly isn’t over and his decision certainly makes for an intriguing offseason. Will Braxton Miller stay for his final season? Can Jones out duel Barrett when he returns from rehabbing his fractured ankle?

Jones’ decision on Thursday certainly makes the 2015 offseason a very cloudy one at quarterback for the Buckeyes.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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