Urban Meyer said Thursday he has an idea of which draft-eligible underclassmen will leave for the NFL following the season, but didn’t go into much detail.
“I kind of do,” Meyer said when asked if he knows how many of his players intend to leave early. “But we’re just avoiding all that conversation until — focus is on this bowl game.
It’s no secret the Buckeyes are flooded with NFL talent and the majority of those players all have options to return to school for another season or turn pro. If any of those draft-eligible underclassmen have their minds made up, however, they didn’t say much on the situation Thursday during Ohio State’s Fiesta Bowl media day.
“I’m just worried about Notre Dame right now and about the team,” junior defensive end Joey Bosa said. “I’ll worry about that when the time comes.”
Widely projected as a top-five pick, Bosa seems all but gone despite his comments Thursday. Running back Ezekiel Elliott has already declared this season will be his last in Columbus and quarterback Cardale Jones has done the same.
But there are others, as well, who all have similar decisions to make.
Junior safety Vonn Bell and redshirt guard Pat Elflein are two of those guys. Each was asked about that choice Thursday, but neither said much has changed from the last time they spoke on the situation.
“I really haven’t thought about it,” Bell said. “I’ve just been putting it off to the side. I’ll let everybody know when I know, so we’ll see about that.”
Added Elflein: “Nothing’s changed for me. I’m probably coming back, but I’m still looking at some things.”
Others will have to do the same. Wide receivers Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall, linebacker Darron Lee and cornerback Eli Apple are included in that group and none of those four were made available to the media Thursday.
The lingering decisions put the Buckeyes in a bit of a difficult situation as they prepare for the New Year's Day Fiesta Bowl matchup with Notre Dame. Meyer, like all college head coaches, is tasked with keeping his players focused to play a game, while many of them have this decision weighing on their minds.
Meyer said he has liked what he's seen from his team so far.
“We had a great indicator, and that was we got on buses for three hours, we went up to a team that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of affection for Ohio State, and played as hard as we possibly played and won a game against a very good team,” Meyer said. “So that’s a very good indication of what kind of human beings we have on this team. I would anticipate that we would play our tails off.”
Many expect an overhaul with next year’s team. Those decisions aren’t coming anytime soon, though. At least not publicly.
Most of the draft-eligible underclassmen will make their decisions at the end of the season.
“I really have to do my homework, sit down with my family, but I feel like I’ve done it all,” Bell said. “I got my tree in Buckeye Grove so I think — I don’t know, I’ve got to sit down and just review everything and see what’s all on the table and write down my pros and cons.”