LOS ANGELES — Just four days from now, Urban Meyer will coach his final game for Ohio State in the first appearance at the Rose Bowl in his coaching career.
In the days leading up to the game, Meyer may feel similar to the many players who have come through the program, graduated or left early and moved on to the next step in their lives — whatever that may be.
Other than Meyer, though, who won’t be back for the Buckeyes next season?
Obviously, guys like Mike Weber, Dre’Mont Jones and Nick Bosa have all announced what their plans are after the Rose Bowl. However, when Ohio State walks off the field on New Year’s Day, a handful of players will have a difficult decision to make regarding their futures on the field and whether or not to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft or return to Columbus for another season.
Who could be heading to the next level? Here are five guys to keep an eye on after the Rose Bowl.
This may be the most obvious guy on this list for a multitude of reasons, starting with the fact that he is pretty good at throwing a football accurately and for touchdowns. Haskins really solidified his NFL potential down the stretch of the season and basically played his way into the first round all season.
However, with the news that Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert — the No. 1 quarterback prospect according to many — will be staying for his senior year with the Ducks, the stock for Haskins is rising even higher.
Sure, he could stay another year and probably break more records, win more awards and maybe even a national title. But it would be pretty shocking to not see him leave Columbus after just one season starting.
In his third year with the Buckeyes, Fuller has become one of the leaders for the Silver Bullets and ranks second thus far in total tackles behind Malik Harrison. He would be an excellent addition to any NFL squad looking to add some depth to its secondary.
It seems like an easy decision for Fuller to make after the Rose Bowl based on his career at Ohio State. Lately, though, there have been some rumblings that the New Jersey native may return for one last season with Ohio State.
Do I believe it? I would not bet money on Fuller coming back, but it also would not shock me to see that happen.
Despite some snapping woes in a few games this season, the transition to center has been relatively smooth for Jordan and even ended in him being named a first-team All-American pick by SI.com.
In terms of declaring, it has seemed like he has been on the fence about entering his name in the draft. But people close to Ohio State believe he is now leaning towards returning for another season with the program.
Honestly, I think one more year would do Jordan well regarding his draft stock this year compared to possibly this year. But I’m not the one making that decision, am I?
Harrison is another guy that has been considered to be thinking about forgoing his senior season and entering the NFL Draft this April — and why not?
He leads the Buckeyes in tackles, ranks in the top five for tackles for loss and has even racked up a few sacks from his linebacker position. Harrison seems to be a prime prospect for development in the NFL, but it has also been hinted that he may choose to stay in Columbus for his last season to fine-tune his talents.
I’m not sure what Harrison will do, but like Jordan, I do think one more year at Ohio State would only be positive for his future.
As it was pointed out earlier this month, Sheffield is a real wild card when it comes to this whole situation.
He has serious talent that has been on display since he first arrived at Ohio State, but has also proven to be inconsistent at times. It is also tough to gauge where Sheffield stands in terms of his NFL Draft decision because he had routinely declined interview requests since he arrived on campus.
The Rose Bowl media day this weekend will be the two-deep roster only for the Buckeyes and will likely mean that we will finally be able to speak with Sheffield. Will he shed some light on his future? If not, he’ll make his decision after the bowl game.