Since ascending to the role of Ohio State starting quarterback late (very late) in the 2014 season, all Cardale Jones has done is beat Wisconsin 59-0 for a Big Ten Championship, upset Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal, win a CFP National Championship over Oregon, turn down serious NFL interest, make himself into college football's biggest social media darling this side of Jim Harbaugh, land on every preseason Heisman Trophy shortlist available, and generally become one of the defining figures of college football in the year 2015.
But as Jones himself pointed out to ESPN in a story published Wednesday, none of that has changed why he ascended to the role of Ohio State starting quarterback in the first place, namely, injuries to Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett. Because of that, he said he doesn't see his place on the Buckeyes depth chart as any different from what it was at this time in 2014.
From the ESPN story:
"I haven’t proven anything yet. I haven’t proven anything to myself, my teammates, my coaches to label myself as a starter. That’s my opinion, my personal opinion.
"I’m kind of harder on myself than the coaches, but I was thrown into that position. I didn’t beat out J.T. going into the Michigan game. I didn’t beat out Braxton. Unfortunately both guys got hurt, and luckily enough I was prepared to try to take advantage of the situation ...
"I’m working harder than ever. I understand that I want to be the starting quarterback of this team, but I know I have two guys in front of me who are working just as hard."
No matter how hard Miller and Barrett may have been working, both have still been recovering from their injuries while Jones went through spring drills at full capacity.
Even with Miller's once-questionable return now seemingly more likely than ever, no one believes Urban Meyer will simply revert to his pre-injury depth chart without plenty of evidence in fall camp that both Miller and Barrett are healthy enough to justify it.
So in all likelihood, Jones doesn't have two guys in front of him. But believing that he does -- and pushing himself accordingly -- might help explain why come this fall, there might be very well be no guys in front of him.