COLUMBUS, Ohio — Following Ohio State’s loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal Fiesta Bowl, several Buckeyes figured to forego their remaining eligibility and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
We now know that Gareon Conley will be a part of that group.
The Ohio State cornerback announced Tuesday that he will enter the draft rather than return to Columbus for his senior season. The decision hardly comes as a surprise. A fourth-year junior, Conley has not only already graduated from Ohio State, but is also considered one of the draft’s top cornerbacks.
Mannnnn it’s been a wonderful journey from recruiting to playing in the shoe. I feel like the past four years have really expanded and opened my mind and made me grow as a student an athlete and a man! It’s been an honor to play as a buckeye and a silver bullet and also to be apart of the great secondary this past year! I wanna thank everyone from family to friends to buckeye nation for all the love and support it’s a tremendous blessing to have played for yall. Most importantly I wanna thanks all my team mates who I was in the trenches with and through thick and thin I love y’all boys and y’all my brothas for life once a buckeye always a buckeye! I have decided to declare for the 2017 NFL draft. I wanna thank God cause I didn’t earn any of this he blessed me and I took advantage of the blessings and I’m just glorifying him. Thanks again buckeye nation #HowSheGoneEat #BIA #silverbullets #tbc …?
A product of Massillon (Ohio) Washington, Conley has always possessed the ability to be a high level pro prospect, but didn’t reach his potential until this past season. In his second year as a full-time starter, the 6-foot, 195-pound Conley earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, tallying eight pass breakups and four interceptions.
In the final game of his college career, Conley intercepted Clemson star quarterback Deshaun Watson on the Tigers’ second offensive play of the Fiesta Bowl. The signature play of his Ohio State career, however, was a game-clinching interception in the Buckeyes’ 17-16 win over Michigan State this past November.
Ohio State CB Gareon Conley clutching into his game-winning INT pic.twitter.com/kQ5cOh9Fad
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) November 19, 2016
“It was a rush. When I got up, I didn’t even feel like I made the play,” Conley said of the play after the game. “It was just surreal.”
Conley will now take his playmaking ability to the next level.
As for Ohio State, with Marshon Lattimore also considering a leap to the NFL, the Buckeyes could find themselves replacing both of their starting cornerbacks for the first time in the Urban Meyer era. If Lattimore does indeed leave, junior cornerback Denzel Ward figures to be Ohio State’s top corner in 2017.
On Monday, Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker also announced his intentions to enter the upcoming draft.