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Five things to know about the Bills' newest quarterback, Ohio State's Cardale Jones

The Buffalo Bills made good on their promise to add a quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft.

They did so by using a compensatory fourth-round draft pick Saturday on one of the draft's more polarizing figures – Ohio State's Cardale Jones.

A 6-foot-5, 253-pounder, Jones made only 11 starts for the Buckeyes. He just happened to win all of those, including the 2014 national championship game. He was also benched the following season, making Jones one of the draft's bigger boom-or-bust prospects.

"He's got the talent to possibly be a franchise guy," Bills General Manager Doug Whaley said. "Is he there yet? Absolutely not. He's got a lot of work and a lot of ways to go, but this guy's driven. This guy's a proven winner. ... We got a nice guy to work with, with a high upside.

Here are five things to know about the Bills' newest quarterback:

1. Jones went from the ultimate high to losing his job. Pressed into action for Ohio State in 2014 after injuries to J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, Jones burst onto the scene by leading the Buckeyes to wins in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin, the Sugar Bowl against No. 1 Alabama and then the national championship game against No. 2 Oregon. In those games, he threw for 742 yards and five touchdowns, leading to talk that he should declare for the NFL Draft after just those three career starts.

Jones beat out Barrett to begin the season as the starter and went 7-0, completing 62.1 percent of his passes (92 of 148) for 1,240 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions in those games. The Buckeyes, however, weren't satisfied and went back to Barrett.

"He really didn't play that poorly this year when you look at his games," Bills Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos said. "He didn't have blow-up games. The guys just wants to be good and he's going to be molded."

It's easy to understand why Monos says that after listening to Jones talk on a conference call with the Western New York media.

"I mean, I reflect on it and say, 'hey, I could have been in this position las year,' but being the guy I am and always honest with myself, I wasn't ready to be in this position last year," he said about the decision to return to Ohio State in 2015.

Jones didn't sulk after getting benched, returning to the lineup for a game against Minnesota and leading the Buckeyes to a 28-14 win.

"Don't let nothing see you down, and always keep fighting back," he said. "It was a point this season I could have went into a dark place and just said 'screw everything' when I got benched. And then the following game and a half, I was back to starter."

2. He first made national news at Ohio State for all the wrong reasons. Back in 2012, Jones sent out a now-infamous tweet, writing "Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL. We ain't come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS."

For that, he earned a one-game suspension and lost the trust of coach Urban Meyer. Jones consistently cut classes, skipped tutoring sessions and was late to workouts.

His offensive coordinator at the time, Tom Herman, had doubts that Jones would last with the Buckeyes. Jones' roommate, safety Tyvis Powell, told Sports Illustrated that Jones was essentially addicted to video games.

Herman's wife, Michelle, began regularly checking in on Jones, and eventually his approach began to change. He impressed the entire Ohio State coaching staff with his approach after Barrett was hurt, and has been commended for his intelligence.

3. Jones' home life has been tumultuous. The youngest of six children, Jones moved frequently while growing up in Cleveland. He's never met his father, while his mother, Flo Jones, worked odd jobs to make ends meet. Jones attended Ginn Academy, a public school funded through the Cleveland Metropolitan School District that offers an alternative educational setting for boys. Students at Ginn can play high schools sports at other schools, which Jones did under Ted Ginn Sr. at Glenville High School.

Wanting to escape his situation at home, Jones eventually moved in with the woman who served as his mentor, Michelle Nash. Their relationship eventually grew to the point that Jones refers to her as "mom," although he maintains a relationship with his birth mother.

4. He's got a really, really strong arm. Jones once told USA Today he can throw the ball 80 to 85 yards.

Here's teammate Evan Spencer to USA Today: "You guys haven’t seen all of his power. I’ve seen Cardale on one knee throw the ball 65 yards."

Powell also weighed in on it: "Last year, a friend was doing a project where she wanted to study quarterbacks throwing the ball with someone hitting them. I pushed him while he was throwing. He was still throwing 60, 70 yards off a push. Then he got down on a knee and threw it. I was like, 'This is ridiculous.' "

5. Jones once beat a sick child 98-35 in a football video game. Seriously. Just days before Ohio State's appearance in the national championship game, Jones visited 16-year-old Jared Foley, who was recovering at Nationwide Children's Hospital from his seventh open-heart surgery.

The final score made national headlines, especially after Jones corrected a headline that said the score was 91-35. The full story, however, is that Jones struck up a lasting friendship with Foley, returning to the hospital with gifts following Ohio State's win in the national championship – and giving him a more competitive rematch.

 

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