When Cardale Jones took his turn in front of the Columbus media Tuesday morning outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, he did so with a million dollar smile and a pair of shades on his face.
"It's a humbling experience for us because we are like one or two college teams or college players that are there so we're going to take advantage of the opportunity and have fun in L.A. then get ready to come back here and get to work," Jones said, speaking on behalf of his teammates before they boarded a flight to the West Coast to take part in the 2015 ESPY Awards.
Jones, along with fellow quarterback Braxton Miller, running back Ezekiel Elliott and linebacker Joshua Perry, are set to join head coach Urban Meyer as the Ohio State representatives Wednesday evening in Hollywood.
The red carpet extravaganza serves as a bit of a last hurrah for the 2014 College Football Playoff National Champions, who ripped through a laundry list of adversity and eventually the Oregon Ducks Jan. 12 in Dallas, 42-20.
"It's a little bit crazy just kind of knowing some of the names that are going to be there and have been there in the past and how big of an event it is. We take pride in being out there."– Joshua Perry on the ESPYs trip
"It's an honor to be a part and make a trip to L.A. and represent the Ohio State Buckeyes and Ohio State University," Elliott said. "Kind of just a tribute to how much work we put in the offseason and the results of it."
The Buckeyes changed their offseason slogan from "The Chase" to "The Grind" after winning the title, a phrase muttered often Tuesday before they hopped in a van to head to the airport and make a flight.
"I think our team's already done that," Elliott said, mentioning how the book's already been closed on the 2014 season, at least internally. "That's something that the coaches emphasize, that last year was last year and it's a new year now. This offseason's been a grind and we've been grinding so we can have similar results next year."
It's an exciting time to be a Buckeye, with Jones' blossoming popularity, Miller's long awaited reaffirmation to Ohio State and a horde of talent everywhere on a roster that makes them the favorite to win it all again in 2015.
"I think it's good for the program to be recognized. We take pride in the fact that we're building something really good around here," Perry said Tuesday, sporting a massive gold-plated watch. "It's a little bit weird just taking a break in the middle of the week from the grind and everything but it'll be cool and once we get back, we're already focused on the grind for next year. So this isn't going to be any one of those things that takes us off of that."
Perry said he's anxious to mingle with the biggest celebrities in the sports world on the red carpet, but more eager to show off his shoes.
"The biggest thing that I am excited about are my shoes, honestly. I got Allen Edmonds shoes. Great pair," Perry said. "Double monk strap brown shoes that are fantastic, amazing and I can't wait to be out there."
Miller said something similar, referencing how excited he was to get to represent Ohio State despite not playing a down during the title winning season due to his shoulder injury.
"With me being hurt, I’ve still gotta place that leadership role. It feels great, man, it’s an honor," Miller said. "I respect the guys for bringing me out there with there with them and we’re gonna have fun."
The Buckeyes are up for three ESPYs — Best Team, Meyer is up for Best Coach/Manager and Jones is a candidate for Best Breakthrough Athlete — and each of the players heading west has no idea who is going to make the speech if they win the team category.
"I don't know," Jones laughed. "Hopefully not me."
Ohio State faces a slew of great competition for that award, including the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, New England Patriots, Chicago Blackhawks, Golden State Warriors and Connecticut women's basketball team. There are a lot of titles included in that list of teams, but Jones thinks the vote is an easy one.
"In my opinion we should (win) because we battled through so much adversity," Jones said. "It started from the beginning with losing Braxton and it carried on when we lost to Virginia Tech. It carried on when we lost J.T. Just the way that we lost all that and we came out on top. I don't see why we wouldn't win it."
That won't be revealed until Wednesday evening, part of an impromptu trip to Hollywood and the national attention that doesn't happen every day — especially for a bunch of college-aged kids. But the ESPY trip is yet another chapter in Ohio State's longstanding summer in the spotlight.
"It's a little bit crazy just kind of knowing some of the names that are going to be there and have been there in the past and how big of an event it is," Perry said. "We take pride in being out there."