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The Craft era at Ohio State is over

Plus, where Buckeyes stand in the latest NFL mock drafts, Gene Smith wins athletic administration honor and men’s gymnastics is crushing the rest of the conference.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

"If it’s getting out of hand, she’ll definitely keep me humble. She’s definitely proud, but she’ll keep you pretty level-headed."

-Former Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft, via Doug Lesmerises,

After a six-year run spanning numerous wins, steals and three-point shots, the Craft era at Ohio State has officially come to a close. Senior point guard Cait Craft, the younger sister of former Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft, played in her final regular season home game for the Buckeyes yesterday in the team’s 117-74 rout of Illinois. In her career at Ohio State, the younger Craft has logged 97 starts, 723 points, 194 assists and 127 steals. The women’s squad will head to Minnesota and Michigan State later this week to complete the regular season before entering the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. With the Buckeyes currently projected as a No. 2 seed, Craft may return to Columbus for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament scheduled to be played at St. John Arena.

We remember well the defensive prowess of Aaron Craft, who is the all-time leader in both Ohio State and Big Ten history with 337 career steals during his time with the Buckeyes from 2010-2014. Craft is also Ohio State’s leader in career assists at 694. A two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Craft carried his legacy through to the NBA’s D League, where he earned the same honor in 2015.

Beyond outstanding defensive skills, Aaron and Cait also share a commitment to the community and the university. Aaron was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, for which Cait was also nominated in January.

"There will be nearly a dozen players out of Ohio State drafted in the first 100 picks.Lee is second on my list behind Bosa and could be the best of all of them at the next level."

-Peter Schrager, FOX Sports

Despite former Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa slipping out of the top five in many of the latest mock drafts, there are still numerous Buckeyes projected to go in the first round of the draft come April, including:

  • Defensive end Joey Bosa (No. 7: San Fransisco)
  • Linebacker Darron Lee (No. 10: New York Giants)
  • Offensive tackle Taylor Decker (No. 18: Indianapolis)
  • Running back Ezekiel Elliott (No. 20: New York Jets)
  • Cornerback Eli Apple (No. 21: Washington)

Also projected to go in the first round at the No. 11 spot to Chicago is former Ohio State defensive end Noah Spence, who transferred to Eastern Kentucky after his sophomore season.

Lee, despite being somewhat undersized at linebacker, has earned extra looks because of his speed and tackling ability. Elliott is currently the highest-projected running back due to his outstanding blocking ability, and, in this mock draft, is the only one projected to go in the first round.

Bosa remains at the No. 2 or 3 spot in many mock drafts, but has fallen off in recent weeks. Still, Bosa will have a chance to improve his stock this week at the NFL Combine. In all, 14 Buckeyes are heading to Indianapolis for the week--more than any other school is sending.

"From his days as a student-athlete, Gene has honed his skills and become a bona fide leader in intercollegiate athletics. To this day, despite his hectic schedule and numerous responsibilities at Ohio State, Gene continues to support NACDA and its many initiatives and is a driving force behind the John McLendon Foundation."

-NACDA Executive Director Bob Vecchione, via the Ohio State University

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith recently earned the most prestigious recognition in college athletic administration in the form of the James J. Corbett Memorial Award. Smith, who served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, will accept the award in June. The honor is named for former LSU athletic director James Corbett, who was the first president of the NACDA, and is awarded annually to the administrator who is most devoted to and works to improve intercollegiate athletics. In addition to the award, Smith will also receive an honorary degree from the Sports Management Institute in recognition of his efforts.

Smith has been athletic director at Ohio State since 2005, when he arrived from the same position at Arizona State. He also has held directorship positions at Iowa State and Eastern Michigan. While at Iowa State, Smith served as president of the NACDA from 1994-95. Smith played college football at Notre Dame, where he was a defensive end, and was also part of the 1973 national championship team.

Last year, Smith was appointed vice president at Ohio State in addition to director of athletics. He also serves on numerous committees, including the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee.

It was a big weekend for the No. 3-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes men’s gymnastics team. Redshirt sophomore Sean Melton earned a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team following his third-place performance in the all-around at the 2016 Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas, and the squad swept Big Ten weekly honors again for the fourth time this season. Melton was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week, while freshman Alex Yoder, who also competed at the Winter Cup, earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. Both gymnasts have won their respective awards three times this season.

Over the weekend, seven current, former and future Buckeyes competed at the Winter Cup, vying for one of 15 spots on the U.S. Senior National Team. Performances at the Winter Cup determined who would make the roster of those competing at the P&G Gymnastics Championships in June. Melton led the field after the first day of competition, ultimately finishing behind three-time all-around champion Sam Mikulak and last year’s NCAA all-around champion Akash Modi. In addition to Melton, former Buckeye gymnast Brandon Wynn also retained his spot on the national team.

The team has a break until March when they are scheduled to host the Arnold Classic Challenge in Columbus.