Who leaves, who stays for Ohio State?

By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com

Tradition is a big topic of conversation with Ohio State playing USC in the Cotton Bowl.

This match-up of two teams who had some memorable battles in the 1960s and 1970s in Rose Bowl games brings back many memories.

And not just memories of what happened on the field. Midwesterners who got to escape freezing winter temperatures for a few days remember those trips fondly, too.

But much has changed since those days. Much more than just the fact the College Football Playoff championship is now the ultimate postseason destination, not the Rose Bowl

In the 1960s and 1970s, players signed up for four years and played for four years. Not so anymore.

Ohio State had nine underclassmen declare for the NFL draft two years ago and six Buckeyes entered the draft after last season.

A good guess is that at least three or four appear likely to leave early this year with the chance as many as seven or eight could be playing their last game at OSU in Friday’s Cotton Bowl.

Cornerback Denzel Ward, viewed as a first-round pick, and defensive end Sam Hubbard are probably No. 1 and No. 1-A on the list of Buckeyes most likely to depart.

Linebacker Jerome Baker had a better season last year than this year. But it’s not like he was terrible this year and he will knock it out of the park at his pro day or the combine. Defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones also might leave.

Don’t be surprised if Mike Weber declares for the NFL. People forget he’s had a 1,000-yard season. He’s also had had two significant injuries at OSU and J.K. Dobbins is a better back.

Past that, Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell and maybe a surprising player like Kendall Sheffield could move on.


By Jim Naveau


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