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Cardale Jones returning to Ohio State after National Championship

The former third-string QB starred in three postseason games and will return to compete for the starting job.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Redshirt sophomore Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones announced Thursday that he's staying instead of leaving early for the NFL. Jones, who entered the season as the Buckeyes' third-string quarterback, won the national title Monday in his third career start.

Jones' decision was a risky one, with little playing time under his belt but no guaranteed opportunity to expand his resume at Ohio State. Quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett could return next season. Jones previously said he didn't think he was ready for the NFL quite yet.

At 6'5 and 250 pounds, Jones has prototype NFL quarterback size and then some. He runs with power, has a cannon of an arm, plays with poise, and is clearly beloved by teammates. But his small sample size would've likely scared some NFL GMs.

Even if he'd left early, he'd still be remembered as one of the season's most entertaining players and one of Ohio State's all-time greats.

Ohio State expected to start the Heisman favorite Miller in 2014, but he suffered a season-ending injury before the year began. His replacement, the redshirt freshman Barrett, played himself into Heisman contender status before suffering an injury against Michigan. Jones took over for the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin, leading the Buckeyes to a 59-0 victory and a berth in the College Football Playoff.

A former three-star prospect out of Cleveland, Jones joined Ohio State in 2012 after spending a year at prep school. He saw spot action his second year in three games. After Miller and Barrett both went down, Jones completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 247.3 yards per game and six total touchdowns against three of the best defenses in the country.