Jones Progressing At Fork Union

Ohio State already had Braxton Miller committed for the 2011 class but the team liked Glenville QB Cardale Jones enough to offer him the opportunity to grayshirt. Now at a military academy, Jones is prepped to join Ohio State in January.

It wasn't the waking up at the crack of dawn or shining his own shoes that was the toughest transition for Cardale Jones when adjusting to the life of being a student at Fork Union Military Academy.

"Not having a cell phone," Jones told BSB. "That has been the biggest (adjustment) so far."

It is a small price to pay for the Cleveland Glenville alum, who is close to completing his six-month stint at the Virginia military prep academy before enrolling at Ohio State in January.

Jones, the former standout quarterback for the Tarblooders, was presented with an option from the Ohio State coaching staff to delay his enrollment if he wanted to play football for the Buckeyes.

Though he signed a letter of intent in February with the rest of the 2011 class, he is set to join Ohio State but won't enroll until January when the college football season is over.

Given the Buckeyes had highly touted quarterback Braxton Miller of Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne in the 2011 class – who is now starting for the Buckeyes as a freshman – spending the fall at Fork Union gave Jones a chance to attend his dream school while also helping him in terms of the depth chart.

If he takes a redshirt year in 2012, which is expected, that would create two years of separation with Miller and still give Jones a full four years of playing eligibility.

Even with options to attend other Division I-A programs immediately, Jones didn't hesitate committing to be a Buckeye even with a late scholarship offer and a six-month stint at a military academy in the way.

"It hasn't been hard because I have wanted to be a Buckeye and I was willing to do whatever it takes to be a Buckeye," said the 6-5, 215-pound Jones. "They knew I wanted to be a Buckeye. Before I even committed they told me what I was going to have to do to achieve this. I think it shows that I am dedicated and loyal."

After throwing for nearly 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns in addition to seven scores rushing in his senior season at Glenville, Jones has continued to play quarterback at Fork Union under head coach John Shuman.

Though time is shared at quarterback between Jones and two other signal callers, Shuman said he has noticed standout ability from the Cleveland native when he's on the practice field.

"This guy is unbelievably talented," Shuman said. "He has great speed, great size, a great arm. He just has to work on some mechanics and once he gets with a real quarterback coach for a year – get him there for spring and a redshirt year – this guy could be another Cam Newton."

Jones' positive attitude has never faltered, Shuman said, even while leading a life that is immensely different from the one he enjoyed while at Glenville.

"It is a hard transition to come to Fork Union, and understanding where he is from, it is hard to come in here and be plopped down nine or 10 hours away from home," the coach said. "Being a highly rated quarterback in high school and in the spotlight all the time and then – boom! – you're at Fork Union Military Academy. You're in the same uniform, you're saying, ‘Yes sir, no sir,' you're marching around, you're trying to go to class, be a great student all while maintaining a military focus. It's hard.

"Also, showing your talent on the field. I have seen him grow very well in a short time as a person, as a student and as a player," Shuman continued. "Being a spotlight guy and then all of a sudden you're sharing with two other quarterbacks, that's tough, too. But he always brings a smile to practice. He tries to improve as a quarterback."

Ohio State has yet to get a commitment from a quarterback in the 2012 class, which is likely because the Buckeyes have plans for Jones in the future.

Though Miller could potentially be the starter at the position for four seasons, Jones should get his opportunity at considerable playing time if he continues on his current trajectory. Shuman, who coached current OSU running back Carlos Hyde for a year before the Florida native wound up with the Buckeyes, sees all the potential in the world out of Jones.

"I told Cardale that he is a needed person here and that he gives us energy," he said. "We can do a lot of things with him with the option and the quarterback draw. He gives us variety and we're glad he is here.

"He scrambled one time, running around there like Michael Vick and threw it for about 65 yards for a score. That was a lightbulb feeling. It was like, ‘Wow!' He lit up the room. I told him he has showed the talent and now is time to consistently keep doing it. He has to dig down and keep showing us the talent."

Question marks surrounding his academic maturity came to light toward the tail end of Jones' senior season at Glenville, but Shuman expects time at Fork Union should help correct any bad habits that may have existed.

Jones said the "time has flown by" and he is counting the days to getting to Ohio State. "I think about Ohio State a lot," he said. "It's motivating me. I want to come into Ohio State and have an immediate impact at quarterback."

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