Ohio State DT Johnathan Hankins declares for the 2013 NFL Draft

Big Hank is headed to the 2013 NFL Draft. - Jonathan Daniel

The Buckeyes' all-Big Ten defensive tackle is departing school after his junior season.

Ohio State's defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins has announced he's leaving school to make himself eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft. He had one season of eligibility remaining. It's not a shock, as many close to the program have been indicating that Hankins had made up his mind to go professional as early as midway through the season.

"I have decided, with the support of my family, to forego my senior season at Ohio State in order to enter the NFL Draft," Hankins said Monday. "I will always be grateful for the family I have gained here at Ohio State.

"I want to thank coach Meyer, coach Vrabel and strength coach Marotti for bringing the best out of me as a football player and person, and for their constant support. I also want to thank coach Tressel and coach Heacock for recruiting me and giving me an opportunity to be a part of this great school and great program."

Hankins started every game in the past two seasons. In 2012, he finished fifth on the team with 55 tackles and 4 tackles-for-a-loss. Big Hank entered the year on the watch lists for the Lombardi, Outland, Bednarik, and Nagurski trophies. Hankins is being projected by most draft experts as a first rounder, with most mock drafts having him slotted between the 6th and 15th picks overall.

The question for Ohio State fans now becomes whether or not all-Big Ten defensive back Bradley Roby elects to return for his junior season. By all accounts, it's sounding like Roby will be back in Columbus next season. There also exists a chance that tailback Carlos Hyde could make himself eligible for the NFL Draft, but he seems even more likely to return.

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