The XFL is back for its second attempt at prominence, as the league kicks off its first regular-season gameplay since the year 2001. This time around, however, the league has attempted to position themselves as more of a spring football league of sorts, rather than a true competitor for the NFL‘s crown.
Yet, while it may not be in head-to-head competition with the NFL at the moment, that doesn’t mean that the XFL hasn’t stripped “The Shield” of some notable names. Players such as Landry Jones, Christine Michael, and Eli Rogers are just some of the plethora of former NFL players with solid professional game tape under their belt.
However, the most notable name taking the field this weekend may be one who has a very limited NFL resume, yet took the nation by storm during his college playing days. That, of course, would be none other than the DC Defenders’ starting quarterback Cardale Jones.
Here’s what you need to know about the potential XFL star:
Follow the Heavy on Fantasy & Betting for all the latest betting news, odds, and picks
1. Cardale Jones is a Former CFB National Champion
Cardale Jones spent his college football career at The Ohio State University. While his time as a Buckeye was memorable, it was also quite the journey.
Jones was redshirted as a true freshman, seeing his first game action in his redshirt freshman season back in 2013. He was used sparingly on offense, and with a stacked group of quarterbacks listed ahead of him on the depth chart, OSU began sprinkling Jones in as a reserve tight end.
The following year, Jones endured much of the same treatment. He started the season third on the depth chart behind two Ohio State legends, Braxton Miller and JT Barrett. However, after injuries to both the QBs ahead of him, Jones was called upon to make his first career start for the sixth-ranked Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship game. Jones answered the bell, leading his team to a 59-0 beat down of the Wisconsin Badgers. In return, Jones staked claim to game MVP and elevated his team into the College Football Playoffs.
Jones would go on to continue one of the most prolific and storied runs in college football history. The following week, Jones took down the almighty Nick Saban and the University of Alabama 42-35, earning a right to play in the CFB National Championship game.
Against all odds, this one-time third-string quarterback capped off his 2014 campaign by hoisting a National Championship trophy after defeating the Oregon Ducks soundly by the score of 42-20. Jones scored two total touchdowns on the day and cemented himself into Ohio State history.
2. At One Time He Was a Projected 1st-Round NFL Draft Pick
Despite his limited resume, Jones began to gather rave reviews from media and NFL scouts who were drooling over his skillset. Standing at 6’5”, weighing in at 250+ pounds, with a cannon arm and enough mobility to keep the defenses honest with his feet, Jones was destined to be a high-round draft pick were he to declare.
However, after starting just three collegiate games, Jones sat in front of a media-packed press conference following the National Championship game and deemed himself “not ready for that level yet.”
Jones would return to Ohio State for his Redshirt Junior season with sky-high expectations. Many pegged the player commonly known as “12-Gauge” as a locked-in first-round pick, while some even projected him as the 1st-overall draft pick in the 2016 draft.
3. From “Playing School” to College Graduate
Cardale Jones arrived at Ohio State the way many Division I football players do, with one main goal, to make the NFL. In many ways, school seemed like something that was just getting in the way.
This is evident by a tweet that Jones posted back in the day, claiming he and his teammates came to Ohio St. to “play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL,” adding “classes are POINTLESS.”
Jones would go on to mature greatly during his time in college, eventually evolving his mindset on school. Jones’ initially decision to return to college when his NFL Draft prospects were at an all-time high had just as much to do with getting a college degree as it did with his limited game action.
Jones would eventually go on to earn a diploma at Ohio State while poking fun at his now-infamous tweet in the process.
4. Despite Lofty Expectations, Jones Played in Just 1 NFL Game
Jones’ final season at Ohio State did not go the way he, nor many Draft experts, expected. Despite beating out fellow quarterback JT Barrett early in the season, Jones would later on be benched in favor of Barrett while he watched his Draft stock plummet.
Jones would eventually be selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 4th-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. While many saw Jones’ potential as a perfect fit to eventually land the starting gig for such a QB-hungry franchise such as Buffalo, Jones never started a game with the team, attempting just 11 passes during his time as a Bill.
Jones would subsequently be dealt the following season to the Los Angeles Chargers, where his offensive coordinator at Buffalo, Anthony Lynn, had just taken over as the head coach. Lynn seemed fairly excited about the prospect of once again working with Jones.
However, Jones’ career never materialized in California. 12-Guage failed to take a single snap under center during his tenure with the Bolts. He spent most of his two years with the team bouncing around their active roster and practice squad.
Jones’ last sniff at the NFL came with the Seattle Seahawks ahead of the 2019 regular season. His stint with the Hawks lasted approximately 11 days before the team cut ties with him.
5. Jones’ XFL Performance Can Put Him Back on the NFL Map
Despite Jones’ rocky NFL career, it’s fair to say that he was never really given a true shot to compete for playing time at the professional level. With Jones being nothing more than a mid-round selection, organizations never felt a real need to get him on the field. In return, he was continuously pushed aside for players that cost a higher draft capital.
Still, Jones is just 27-years of age. While he may not carry that same potential that some believed he had following his National Championship Title back in the day, the raw talent is still there.
In the XFL, Jones will get his first true shot to show his abilities in real, live game action since his Ohio State days, and if all goes well, he may just work his way back into the NFL.