To the surprise of no one, Ohio State is losing three junior stars to the NFL Draft following Friday's Fiesta Bowl.
Head coach Urban Meyer confirmed to reporters Thursday that defensive end Joey Bosa, quarterback Cardale Jones and running back Ezekiel Elliott will forego their senior seasons to enter the NFL Draft and pursue professional careers.
The news on all three was completely expected and actually downright expressed by at least a couple of those guys earlier in the year. Ezekiel Elliott made it known he'd be heading to the draft during his rant regarding coaching decisions in the Buckeyes' loss to Michigan State. Jones used social media after that game to indicate it was his final game at Ohio Stadium. Bosa hadn't flat-out said anything yet but made it pretty clear that the last few games were likely his last in scarlet and gray.
Bosa is projected to be one of the first players selected in next year's draft. He's a back-to-back Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, having won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2014. After recording 7.5 sacks his freshman year and a whopping 13.5 a season ago, Bosa had five during the regular season this year. Additionally this season Bosa racked up 16 tackles for loss, had 14 quarterback hurries and even came away with an interception.
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Jones had a rocky season following his breakout stardom during last season's College Football Playoff. Jones was the third quarterback the Buckeyes used following a preseason injury to Braxton Miller and an injury to J.T. Barrett in the regular-season finale, but despite his inexperience he led Ohio State to monumental postseason victories over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon in the national championship game. This season, Jones won the starting job out of camp, but he wasn't lighting up opposing defenses and frequently sat while Barrett played until midway through the campaign, when Barrett was handed the starting gig for good. Appearing in 10 games, Jones completed 62.5 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,460 yards and eight touchdowns, also throwing five interceptions. Jones reaffirmed his decision to leave to reporters Wednesday. CBSSports.com has Jones ranked as the No. 6 quarterback in the upcoming draft class.
Elliott had a phenomenal season, leading the Big Ten and ranking in the top five in the nation in rushing with 1,672 yards and 19 touchdowns and earning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors. He went over 100 yards in all but one of the Buckeyes' 12 regular-season games and had a pair of monster performances: 274 yards and three touchdowns against Indiana and 214 yards and two touchdowns against Michigan. Entering the season as a Heisman Trophy favorite, Elliott didn't earn an invite to New York, though he had a comparable season to the running back who won the award, Alabama's Derrick Henry. Elliott currently ranks second on Ohio State's all-time rushing list with 3,812 yards. Elliott is ranked among the top running backs in the draft, with some rankings having him as the No. 1 running back and a potential first-round selection.
Friday's Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame will be the final game at Ohio State for all three Buckeye stars.