COLUMBUS — Wyatt Davis didn’t need to be at Ohio State last year.
He earned All-American honors as a redshirt sophomore, setting himself up for a solid draft position if he wanted to leave. But before the Buckeyes met Clemson in the 2019 College Football Playoff semifinals, the offensive lineman announced he was returning.
Davis could’ve again walked away this fall. He opted out in September when the Big Ten sputtered around, trying to figure out if it would play a season. When the conference did put a schedule in place, he returned. The plan didn’t go perfectly — he injured his knee against Indiana. Instead of exiting Ohio State and rehabbing what was then a low-grade injury in preparation for the NFL Draft, he played with a nagging knee problem through Ohio State’s most crucial stretch of the season.
Trying to play through the pain didn’t make it any better, either. Davis finished his Buckeyes career on crutches in the national championship game, watching the entire second half against Alabama from the sidelines.
“Even if I would have known what my injury was prior, I still would have played, just because we were right there,” he said after his Pro Day. “You know, I was either all in or nothing.”
When or exactly how the injury occurred during the fourth game of the Ohio State season is a mystery. Evaluated as a low-level deal, the knee started to really bother Davis in the postseason. He received a second opinion at the conclusion of the season, discovering surgery wasn’t necessary — but rehabbing the knee needed to be his top priority.
For the first few weeks after the national championship, he dedicated himself to healing his knee instead of training for Pro Day. The focus on rehabbing worked, however, as he looked fully healthy at the Buckeyes Pro Day and pushed out 25 bench press reps.
“I felt like I did a very good day of showing that my knee is perfectly fine,” he said. “It’s back to 100 percent. And I feel like I was able to do so with these drills. I feel like it was a really good day for me.”
What Davis did best in Columbus was serve as the pillar for the Ohio State offense. If a passionate locker-room speech needed to be delivered, he delivered. And he delivered on the field, too, using a mix of sheer talent and hard work to dominated. After starting for just one season, the Big Ten awards voters had already seen enough to name him to the league’s All-Decade Team. Yet the footwork and strength that made him a member of the team can only get him so far at the next level.
Davis talked openly after his Pro Day about the work he’s been putting in preparation for the NFL. Specifically, he’s focused on pass protection and technique. Ohio State’s offense prepared him for film breakdowns with coaches and front office staffers, but becoming a student of the game can assure him a fruitful professional football career.
At Ohio State’s Pro Day, he went through a handful of offensive-line position drills and field work to show his knee and technique have improved.
“They were all drills sent from the NFL coaches themselves, what they wanted to see,” he said. “It was all short, change of direction, which I think is stuff that is really important from my position specifically because we work within a short space. So I feel like my change of direction was some that I really showed off today.”
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Davis as the No. 4 guard in April’s draft. He might sit at the position because of his talent, but Wyatt Davis has earned a reputation of being an all-around leader that will carry over with him to the NFL.