Jones To Follow Boeckman's Path

This fall, Cardale Jones will be the first player in eight years to go through a grayshirt season at Ohio State. BuckeyeSports.com caught up with both him and the last player to experience such a season -- quarterback and former team captain Todd Boeckman.

On National Signing Day, Ohio State offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Bollman said there is one key factor that goes into whether a prospective player will consider taking a grayshirt: how much that person wants to be a Buckeye.

OSU landed one such player for its class of 2011 in Cardale Jones, a three-star quarterback from Cleveland Glenville. The 6-5, 215-pound commitment will delay his enrollment at OSU for a quarter and enroll for winter courses next season. He will be the first to do so since Todd Boeckman, a three-star prospect in the class of 2003 who also lined up under center.

Arriving at that decision took some swallowing of the pride, Boeckman told BuckeyeSports.com.

"I think it was around 2002 when (quarterbacks coach) Joe Daniels came to our house and presented the situation to me and my family," Boeckman said, "and at first we thought it was a slap in the face, like, ‘What the heck is going on?' Then we sat down and thought it through and talked it over and it was a chance to play another year and have an opportunity. I saw the guys who were in front of me and who they were."

With Craig Krenzel going through his senior season in 2003, the writing was on the wall for Justin Zwick to take his spot the following season. Although he began the year as the starter, it was Troy Smith who emerged as the quarterback and won a Heisman Trophy as a senior.

However, as his senior season closed at St. Henry, Ohio, Boeckman said the coaches left the door open for him to join the team in the fall.

"I always wanted to be an Ohio State Buckeye, but he did say that if you still want to come in this fall we'll honor that. You don't have to do this grayshirt. They left it up to me and gave me the option of what I wanted to do and gave us some time to talk about it.

"Going in, the odds of me playing over Justin Zwick or Troy Smith were probably not very good. I knew that coming in but you never know in college athletics what could have happened. Something could've gone wrong and I could've gotten my shot early, but it was a chance to be at Ohio State another quarter and get a chance to possibly start for two years."

Boeckman delayed his enrollment but not his start as a student in Columbus. The quarterback enrolled as a part-time student at OSU, took six credit hours and accrued a few benefits along the way. The quarterback was able to take part in fall camp as well bowl practices.

The plan laid out for Boeckman came to pass following the 2006 season. Then a junior, he won the starting job and held it until the third game of the 2008 season when he gave way to Terrelle Pryor.

It is a situation that could also prove true for Jones. Like Boeckman a three-star prospect, the senior from Cleveland Glenville faces a crowded depth chart ahead of him this fall.

In addition to seniors Terrelle Pryor and Joe Bauserman, sophomore Ken Guiton and redshirt freshman Taylor Graham are joined by five-star prospect Braxton Miller. The freshman has already enrolled for winter courses and will be on hand for spring football.

According to Jones, facing a situation like that made his decision a no-brainer.

"There's five quarterbacks there now and if I went there this year I'd be the sixth one, sitting around," he said. "I'm pretty sure they don't run six teams, so me and a couple other guys would probably sitting around getting one rep every 25, 30 minutes. Instead I can go to a prep school and I'll still have my five years of eligibility when I come there in January."

Unlike Boeckman, however, Jones will not spend the fall in Columbus. He will attend Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, the former home of current running back Carlos Hyde and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George.

"Guys that go to Ohio State went there before and I took the coaches' word," he said when asked why that would be his first destination.

Jones committed to the Buckeyes on National Signing Day after having landed a scholarship offer the weekend before. Scout rates him the No. 24 quarterback in the nation, four spots ahead of where Boeckman was listed in 2003. Throughout his recruitment, Jones maintained his belief that an offer would eventually come from OSU.

Asked why there was never a moment he doubted the Buckeyes, he said, "Because they've been recruiting me since I was in 10th grade and I didn't think they would drag me along all those years just to say, ‘Well, we got our guy.' "

As a starter, Jones amassed a 24-3 record and led the Tarblooders to the state title game as a junior. He threw for 1,689 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior.

However, the senior said the Buckeyes never discussed grayshirting until he took his official visit to campus during the final weekend of January. They were the only school to discuss the possibility with him, he said.

And as for Bollman's comments on signing day, Jones seems to fit the profile. Asked where he might have ended up had OSU not offered, he replied, "It's hard to say because I never really listened to any other schools."


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