Ohio State lost 16 starters last season not because it had a lot of seniors, but because it had so many talented underclassmen that reached their college ceilings. Nine left early, and seven of them were drafted.
The situation isn’t exactly the same this season — the Buckeyes won’t have five players taken in the top 20 — but they still could lose a handful of guys to the NFL Draft.
Several Ohio State players announced they’re returning after a 31-0 loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, and plenty of others said they had some thinking to do. Many of them would be taken in the first two rounds, according to these NFL mock drafts.
Here’s what Land of 10’s Ben Axelrod wrote on Sunday morning.
I expect more of those players to leave than to stay, although each who did comment on his future mentioned that it would be tough to leave after losing 31-0. That rang true for Barrett, who also has a decision to make in the coming weeks because after having already graduated, his options are aplenty.
Players returning to Ohio State in 2017
DE Sam Hubbard was a rock on Ohio State’s defensive line this season and said after the game that he’s not going anywhere.
#BuckeyeNation I'm not going anywhere. Time to get to work for next season .. Thank you seniors, it was a pleasure. Love you all
— Samwise (@Sam_Hubbard_) January 1, 2017
OG Billy Price is following in the mold of Pat Elflein, returning for his senior season and transitioning to center. Price was an All-American at guard in 2016 and said his return has been decided for a while.
“I’m coming back,” he said. “I’m going to play center and lead the team. Myself and (tackle) Jamarco (Jones), we’re going to do some work next year.”
LB Chris Worley will also return after his first year as a starter.
DE Jalyn Holmes is also coming back for his senior season.
DE Tyquan Lewis was the 2016 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year after registering 7.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss in the regular season. The fourth-year player also earned a degree from Ohio State this fall but will be back for another season.
QB J.T. Barrett is coming back for his senior season. He made the announcement in an Instagram post on Jan. 4 after saying it would be “really hard for me to walk away when we just lost 31-0” after the Fiesta Bowl.
TE Marcus Baugh is raw, but possesses NFL athleticism. He tweeted on Jan. 10 that he will return for a senior season.
CB Marshon Lattimore is the No. 1 corner on ESPN’s Todd McShay’s big board. His stock really can’t get any higher and, given his injury history, he’ll likely make the jump.
Leaving for NFL
S Malik Hooker said a few weeks ago that he’s definitely returning to Ohio State in 2017 after a spectacular first year as a starter, but declared for the draft on Jan. 2.
CB Gareon Conley declared for the draft on Jan. 3.
LB Raekwon McMillan became the third Ohio State defensive player to declare for the draft in as many days, announcing on Jan. 4.
Thank You !! pic.twitter.com/ucRsP47buI
— Raekwon McMillan (@Kwon_daTRUTH) January 4, 2017
WR Noah Brown unexpectedly became the fourth Buckeye to announce he was entering the draft, tweeting his departure on Jan. 7.
H-back Curtis Samuel announced on Jan. 9 he will enter the Draft.
— Curtis Samuel (@CurtisSamuel4__) January 9, 2017