INDIANAPOLIS — Standing at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, Taylor Decker is the tallest player at his position at the 2016 NFL Combine.
On Wednesday, he also served as a beacon for the Ohio State football program. Decker was the only Buckeye to speak to the media inside Lucas Oil Stadium on a blustery and rainy day in Indianapolis — running back Ezekiel Elliott was scheduled to, but his schedule did not allow for it — but the fact 13 of his teammates are set to invade Indianapolis was apparent even without them there.
"We demand excellence, we have a tradition of excellence and a culture of it," Decker said of Urban Meyer's program. "That's kind of what I think all these players getting invited is a testament to."
“There are a lot of guys on that Ohio State team that are definitely going to have long careers in the NFL.”– Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers Coach
Decker joins Elliott, wide receivers Braxton Miller, Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall, quarterback Cardale Jones, safeties Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell, corner Eli Apple, linebacker Joshua Perry and Darron Lee, tight end Nick Vannett and defensive linemen Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington at the Combine. The 14 names are more than any other school represented for drills, interviews and everything else that comes with the Underwear Olympics.
"They have a great class," Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said. "Coach Meyer put together a great recruiting class at Ohio State. Much like he did a few years ago with the University of Florida. There was a special class that the Pounceys and the Tebows of the world were all together, so I think that just speaks volumes as to his ability to put together a great team.
"And they won a national championship, so it’s not surprising that they have a lot of draft prospects this year."
Decker is regarded as one of the top offensive tackles in this year's class and should hear his name called early in the draft come April. A slew of other Buckeyes could too, representative of just how much talent Meyer and his staff had at their disposal last season.
"When you have really good players who are competing against each other and want to get better every day, it's kind of one of the products that you get," Decker said.
Interviews with the 13 other players are scheduled to come later in the week, to keep a constant flux of Scarlet and Gray flowing through the bowels of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Meyer has his program in a position to be an annual competitor for the College Football Playoff. A day like Wednesday — where only Decker spoke but Ohio State's class was mentioned often — reaffirmed that, pitting it in the same breath as the nation's elite.
"I’ve watched a lot of college tape leading up to this and boy, three teams that jumped out were Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama," Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said. "Huge, huge, talent on those football teams. I mean really, really, impressive.
"There are a lot of guys on that Ohio State team that are definitely going to have long careers in the NFL."