CLEVELAND — For most of the past week Cardale Jones has been spending time in Cleveland.
The Ohio State quarterback announced last Thursday at Ginn Academy that he was staying in college for another season. The next day Aubie Murphy, his uncle and mother’s brother, died of liver cancer.
Jones was at the Cavs-Bulls game on Monday, when the Buckeyes were honored for winning the national championship, and returned to his hometown on Thursday as he received a special award at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.
"It’s been emotional, dealing with that whole NFL decision, then with the passing of my uncle, I still haven’t sat down and grasped that we just won the national championship," Jones said. "It has been great to see Cleveland come together as one (after OSU’s improbable season) and be behind something."
The third-string quarterback at the beginning of the season, Jones became the starting quarterback late in the season and directed the Buckeyes to their three biggest wins of the year — over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon in the College Football Playoff title game.
Where Jones figures on the depth chart with Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett will be one of the best storylines of spring practice.
Said Jones at the QB competition: "I have no clue right now. We haven’t started working out yet as a team. I’m pretty sure our coach will put his team in the best opportunity and the best hands to win."
When asked if a regular-season game would be different, Jones added: "It’s different but you always prepare to the best of your best abilities. A regular-season game in this situation is almost like a playoff game."
One person who spent a lot of time with Jones on Thursday was Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. The two had an extended conversation backstage in what looked like a precursor to 13 months from now when Jones figures to be at the NFL Scouting Combine.