Cardale Jones has a deep secret. He dances around the topic when describing it.
Before his freshman year of high school, the quarterback prospect who now sports scholarship offers from a host of major football programs was not focused on a career on the gridiron. In his words, the Glenville, Ohio, native thought the football players were “just too big.” So Jones opted to forgo cleats for slippers.
Jones took up ballet before entering high school, figuring the acticity would replace passing and precision routes with pirouettes. Eventually, however, Jones found his way back on to the football field and became a dominant player in Ohio. Last year, his junior season, he passed for more 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 500 yards and six scores.
But ballet isn’t a thing of the past quite yet.
“I still participate in it. Sometimes I’ll go into an empty room at school and do it,” Jones said. “It’s good in a way, sort of a release — a way to escape.”
He’s managed to convince a few of his teammates to join him, noting that they’ve “really improved on the field since taking up ballet.”
But Jones isn’t all about The Nutcracker — he’s quite a firecracker on the football field.
This past weekend, Jones won the MVP Award for quarterbacks at the Ohio State football camp, impressing the coaches on hand. The three-star quarterback had to cancel his planned visit to Penn State over the weekend because he high school coach though doing that after attending the OSU camp would be too much.
An unofficial visit to Penn State remains in the game plan, perhaps by early July.
“They’re a great school with a great tradition,” Jones told FightOnState.com. “They have a tradition of producing great quarterbacks, too.”
Jones said that he likes the coaching staff at Penn State and its tough, hard-nosed mentality. Being recruited by the Nittany Lions is different than almost any other program, he explained. The coaching staff and recruiters at Penn State let the player know that they’re interested in him, but won’t push a player or be overbearing in their outreach to him.
“They’re very businesslike in what they do and how they do it. They let you know that they offered you but then they say that it is up to you if you want to express more interest,” Jones said. “I like it that way; it’s no pressure. That’s the way it should be.”
In early July, Jones and his teammates from Glenville will travel to Oregon to play in a 7-on-7 tournament at the Nike facilities. He sees it as an opportunity to stay sharp and work on things with his teammates and hopefully pull in a national championship. Jones was also recently nominated to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and said that he hopes to continue the school’s tradition of sending players to the game.
He says academics — boasts a 3.4 GPA — will be important in his college decision. In addition, he wants a strong coaching staff with continuity and a place that he can “call home for the next four or five years.”
And perhaps, a ballet program.
“The girls seem to like it,” Jones said with a laugh. “They figure if I’m good at that, maybe I’m good to talk to or something.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for questions, comments and crude remarks at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012
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