In the inaugural year of the college football playoff, Ohio State receiver Devin Smith boosted his draft stock in the three games after the regular season. In the Big Ten championship game versus Wisconsin, the Sugar Bowl against Alabama and the national championship against Oregon, Smith racked up seven receptions for 269 yards and four touchdowns.
The difference between those three games and the rest of the season? Sophomore Cardale Jones took over at quarterback after freshman J.T. Barrett broke his ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan. Barrett got the job at the start of the season when senior Braxton Miller hurt his shoulder in training camp.
As Smith moves on to the NFL after going as the No. 37 pick overall to the Jets, all three of those quarterbacks will be returning to Columbus for another season. So who starts?
"Probably Cardale," Smith said. "The last three games, he really just went up. I think his momentum right now -- if it was up for me -- I would pick Cardale. I know Coach [Urban] Meyer is going to put his team in the best position to win."
Smith is aware of how important the final stretch of the season with Jones was to his draft status. In particular, Smith's performance in Jones' first game as a starter put both their names on the map.
"Probably the Wisconsin game," Smith answered when asked about his best game as a Buckeye. "I felt that was a game I showed a lot and just with tracking the ball down and going up to get it and really helping the team."
Smith is leaving a program with an embarrassment of riches at quarterback to an NFL team with question marks at the position. Geno Smith has shown some signs during his first two NFL seasons but has struggled for the most part. Michael Vick -- who was Devin Smith's favorite NFL player -- is an unrestricted free agent after serving Geno Smith's backup. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Simms are the other quarterbacks on the Jets' roster.
Devin Smith says he did not watch much NFL in college, but he is optimistic about working with Geno Smith.
"I think he's going to do well," Devin said. "This is a hard game. Everyone is going to have their ups and downs, but I think he's going to do well."
Although Devin Smith was born and raised in Ohio, he is happy to be headed East Rutherford, N.J., because it's pretty close to the Bronx.
"I'm a big Yankees fan, so I'm going to try to catch some games there," Smith says. "Derek Jeter is my favorite. For the most part, I'm excited. It's a city I've never been to. It's going to be an eye-opening experience for me and my family."
Unfortunately for Devin Smith, he probably won't be able to make it to High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J., when the Buckeyes visit Rutgers on the night of Oct. 24. The Jets will be in New England for their game against the Patriots the next day. But it is a nationally televised game so he should be able to catch. The question is, who will be throwing for the Buckeyes in that game.
On a side note, how about Cardale Jones' absurd "May Fools" joke on Twitter?
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.