Can Ohio State Continue to Survive the Mass Exodus of Talent to the NFL?

By David Regimbal on January 24, 2019 at 1:30 pm
Nick Bosa and Dre'Mont Jones

© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

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Year after year, Ohio State sends a wave of talent to the NFL draft.

Most college football programs can't survive the consistent mass deflections for a sustained period of time. Alabama seems immune. So does Ohio State. Clemson looks like its joining the conversation.

But these empires have a way of crumbling, given enough time. USC appeared bulletproof throughout most of the Aughts, but the Trojans haven't been a legitimate national title contender in over a decade.

Before USC it was Miami. Nothing seemed strong enough to hold up to the Hurricanes at the turn of the century. At least, that was the case until a fateful January night in Tempe, Arizona 16 years ago. 

There are innumerable factors that hold up a college football dynasty. From coaching stability to recruiting, schedule management to blind luck — a lot needs to click (and continue to click) for a machine to operate at that level for that long.

But arguably the most important element to sustained success is talent. Nick Saban is great. Urban Meyer is a future hall of famer. Neither would have won multiple national titles without rosters stacked with NFL talent.

Ohio State has been an NFL factory for decades, but it kicked into high gear with Meyer's arrival in 2012. During his seven-year tenure, 40 Buckeyes had their names called in the NFL draft, and that doesn't factor in players like Noah Spence who finished their collegiate careers outside of Columbus.

Potential Buckeye Draftees
Name Position
Nick Bosa Defensive End
Dwayne Haskins Quarterback
Dre'Mont Jones Defensive Tackle
Parris Campbell Wide Receiver
Michael Jordan Offensive Lineman
Kendall Sheffield Cornerback
Mike Weber Running Back
Isaiah Prince Offensive Tackle
Terry McLaurin Wide Receiver
Johnnie Dixon Wide Receiver

And this spring, there are as many as 10 former Buckeyes who are either locks to be selected or have a great chance to be taken in the draft. 

Six of the players listed here — Nick Bosa, Dwayne Haskins, Dre'Mont Jones, Michael Jordan, Kendall Sheffield and Mike Weber — are forfeiting collegiate eligibility to enter the draft early. 

 

There's a good and bad side to that. Positively, Ohio State has players talented enough to jumpstart their NFL careers early. Negatively, the Buckeyes are losing their best players at least a year or two earlier than they could've otherwise.

That hasn't stopped Ohio State from competing at a consistently  high level. Fourteen of the 40 Buckeye players drafted since 2013 were non-seniors.

The reason for that, of course, is the elite recruiting of Meyer and his staff over the last seven years. Dating back to his first class in 2012, Meyer secured commitments from 15 5-star prospects and an unbelievable 63 players total who ranked inside the Top 100 nationally. Only one of Meyer's Ohio State classes failed to rank inside the top five (seventh in 2015).

For Day and the new regime to continually survive these mass deflections to the NFL, they'll have to recruit at a similarly elite clip. Ohio State's 2019 recruiting class, currently ranked No. 13 nationally, is set to be the lowest-rated group since 2010.

But that's not Day's fault. A year of uncertainty hanging over Meyer's future (and the program in general) scared off many recruits who would've otherwise wound up in Columbus. And to Day's credit, he was responsible for landing 5-stars Zach Harrison (defensive end) and Justin Fields (transfer quarterback from Georgia), two of the most highly rated football prospects in Ohio State football history.

Those are the kind of recruiting results that will keep Day and the Buckeyes from fading like the USC and Miami dynasties of the past.

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