The easy decision would have been to look elsewhere. Go on. Pick a program that gives him an immediate chance.
But Matthew Jones, the Ohio State offensive lineman, didn’t like that. He wasn’t looking for an easy path, even if he had to redshirt his first year in Ohio and back up most of his next two seasons.
« High school is different. A lot of people don’t understand, « the Brooklyn-born and former Erasmus Hall star offensive lineman told the Post by phone ahead of the national championship game on Monday. « You don’t just come in and get yourself a seat, especially in a big place like this. It doesn’t work that way. You have to keep working. »
Sitting was frustrating after rarely leaving the field in high school The watching wasn’t what the four-star Top 75 recruit envisioned when picking Ohio over Georgia, Michigan, and Penn, among others, but the 6-foot-4,310-pound -Jones, a high school All-American, wanted to play at the highest level. The sophomore redshirt believed he was good enough to make an impact if given the opportunity.
At the regular season finale of the Ohio State was named. Then again in the College Football Playoffs on New Years Day. The Buckeyes were short starters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was successful on both occasions on the left and could play an important role against Alabama in the biggest game el of the year at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Monday night, the only native New Yorker who will be in the game. At both starts, the coaching staff gave Jones a « Champions » rating, a rating they give to players who contribute directly to wins.
« It wasn’t two easy games either, » said start center Josh Myers. « They were really important games. »
During difficult times, when Jones was doubting himself and wondering if his time would ever come, he relied on the team’s veterans. They all went through it. They experienced the frustration of waiting. They shared their own stories with him and assured him that his work would eventually be rewarded. They showed him their movie when they were his age.
« Everyone had different situations that they eventually got through, » said Jones. « They all had to work their way up. »
As they predicted, his time came first against Michigan and then against Clemson. Jones was part of an impressive performance by the Buckeyes’ offensive line in the playoff semifinals. He opened holes for Trey Sermon to produce 193 yards on 31 runs, and gave quarterback Justin Fields enough time to score a record in the Ohio state for a bowl game with six touchdown passes.
» I felt like I opened a few eyes to the coaches, « said Jones. “It took me a while to take this step. I showed them that I am capable and can do the job.
“This game was a big game for me. It was a challenge and something I could overcome. “
Next up is an even bigger challenge: the undefeated Alabama. A national championship is coming up. And chances are Jones will be on the field as decided.
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