Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple has announced that he is making himself eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft. Apple, a Voorhees, N.J., native who redshirted his first year in Columbus in 2013, recorded 114 tackles (9.5 for loss), 18 pass break-ups, and four interceptions in his two seasons as a starter, playing in all 28 games (starting 27) for the Buckeyes over that span.
Apple's departure is another blow to Ohio State's secondary, which could very well lose three starters. Fourth-year junior safety Tyvis Powell declared for the NFL on Sunday, and junior safety Vonn Bell, a probable first-round pick, is expected to leave. Cornerback Gareon Conley, a third-year sophomore like Apple, is eligible for the draft but is expected to stay in school.
Apple -- who was named the Defensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl after recording five tackles and one pass break-up against Notre Dame -- was voted second team All-Big Ten in 2015 by the conference's coaches and garnered honorable mention all-conference honors from the Big Ten media. Apple was named a freshman All-American in 2014 by Athlon and Scout.com.
Entering the 2014 season, Apple beat out Conley to replace Bradley Roby after the eventual first-round pick of the Denver Broncos departed following the 2013 campaign. Coming out of high school, Apple was a four-star prospect and was ranked as the No. 2 prospect in all of New Jersey. Apple becomes the sixth member of the Buckeyes' famed 2013 recruiting class to declare for the NFL Draft, joining Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Darron Lee, Cardale Jones, and Powell.