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Michael Thomas and Vonn Bell continuing the Ohio State line in New Orleans

It may just be a coincidence, but there is a strong tradition of former Buckeyes with the New Orleans Saints.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

"He and I have been friends for a long time. I think [that] matters some...Urban and I came up out of the Midwest at the same time. He was at Colorado State as an assistant and I was at San Diego State recruiting the same areas, and over the years [we] have just always kind of stayed in touch."

-New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, via Mike Triplett, ESPN

Of the dozen former Ohio State Buckeyes selected in last weekend’s NFL Draft, two went to the New Orleans Saints in the second round, thereby making up 40 percent of the Saints tiny draft class. Wide receiver Michael Thomas, who went No. 47 overall, and safety Vonn Bell, the 61st-overall pick, are continuing a tradition of Buckeyes in New Orleans--a sentiment that has been put in sharp relief with the passing of former Buckeye and Saint Will Smith. Former Saints players tweeted their support of the picks and of Smith following the selection of both Thomas and Bell. Linebacker James Laurinaitis, another former Buckeye who joined the Saints in the offseason, also offered his support to the younger Bell via Twitter.

While Thomas and Bell address the Saints needs on both sides of the ball, the fact that both came from the same school and were selected in the same round could just be a coincidence. However,  in head coach Sean Payton’s words, it doesn’t hurt that he and Urban Meyer have a good relationship, having recruited the same areas in the past as college coaches.

Bell has impressed the Saints throughout the scouting process, delivering on several of Payton’s requests for more information and film--a request that Payton himself did not task lightly. While the fact that the Saints traded up for Bell might be questionable, there is little doubt that Bell was a steal at No. 61 overall, or that he was a strong pick for a team who ranked consistently at the bottom of most defensive statistical categories last season.

And while analysts may critique the Thomas pick, as he does not play defense, the departure of Marques Colston means that the Saints need to add another big receiver to complement the smaller Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead.

"This is such a good feeling right now. I am so proud of the team and what they have accomplished. Today is the reason why you put in all the long hours. For them to get to run out and celebrate is a feeling they will never forget. They deserve this."

-Ohio State women’s tennis coach Melissa Schaub, via

In a culmination of two outstanding seasons, both the Ohio State men’s and women’s tennis teams won their respective conference tournaments over the weekend, capping undefeated Big Ten slates for both squads. Though both teams had already earned automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament, with the conference champion determined based on regular season schedule, the tournament championship is still a cherry on top of a fantastic year.

For the women, who are ranked No. 5 nationally, this year’s tournament title is the first in program history, having lost in the finals twice previously. After a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed, Ohio State defeated ninth-seeded Wisconsin 4-0 to move on to the semifinals. The Buckeyes followed up with another sweep of No. 4-seed Illinois and a trip to the finals, where they downed third-seeded Michigan by a score of 4-2 and avenged the loss in last year’s tournament finals to the Wolverines. With the win, the team has won 13-straight matches heading into the NCAA Tournament, and are 28-2 overall on the season. This tournament berth is the Buckeyes’ third straight, and 13th in program history.

The No. 4 men’s squad has also been on a roll, having won its last 14 matches, including three in the conference tournament, en route to a 30-2 overall record. After downing Nebraska 4-0 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes backed up their strong performance with another sweep over No. 24 Michigan in the semifinals. The men then capped off their tournament with a 4-1 win over No. 17 Illinois, who had defeated the Buckeyes in last year’s finals, to earn their 11th Big Ten Tournament title, and the ninth in the last 11 years.

The fields for both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments are scheduled to be announced Tuesday.

"Just the signing bonuses alone, which range from Bosa’s projected $17,017,226 to Jones’ $383,393, have an expected total of $60,526,660. Unless a player does something to cause his contract to be voided, signing bonuses are theirs to keep."

-Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch

Urban Meyer may have the ultimate recruiting trump card in his hand in the form of NFL rookie contract totals--a nine-digit number encompassing the projected contracts for the dozen Buckeyes taken in this weekend’s NFL Draft.

With the most picks through four rounds in the history of the draft, those Buckeyes taken have high earning potential early on in their NFL careers--a number totalling more than $111 million on the low end if the draftees play through their contracts. Though the full dollar value of the contract is not guaranteed, the signing bonuses on their own make up a hefty portion and are themselves a tempting pitch for recruits.

Defensive end Joey Bosa and running back Ezekiel Elliott, the No. 3 and No. 4 overall picks, respectively, are projected to earn more than $50 million combined in their four-year rookie contracts, while the five Buckeyes who went in the first round (cornerback Eli Apple, No. 10; offensive lineman Taylor Decker, No. 16; and linebacker Darron Lee, No. 20) are projected to earn a total of $87 million combined over the life of their contracts.

While these numbers put Urban Meyer and Ohio State at a massive advantage nationally, they help to raise the intra-conference recruiting bar to a nearly unreachable level. With just one other Big Ten player taken in the first round in Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin, who was drafted No. 8 overall, the Buckeyes have effectively shown the earning power of coming to Ohio State to potential recruits.

"We like his skill set. He’s got the talent to possibly be a franchise guy. Is he there yet? Absolutely not. He’s got a lot of work and a lot of ways to go. But this guy’s driven, this guy’s a proven winner; he’s undefeated."

-Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley, via Vic Carucci, The Buffalo News

Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is perhaps this draft’s most prominent boom-or-bust prospect. After being selected in the fourth round (and tearing his shirt in the process), Jones commented on how excited he was to be playing for "one of the top organizations in the NFL."

Bills general manager Doug Whaley sees the potential in Jones to grow and develop under E.J. Manuel and Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo. With such a big upside in the potential to be "the franchise guy," the 139th pick seemed to be a steal for Jones. In Whaley’s eyes, the worst case scenario is that Jones winds up the solid No. 2 quarterback, and the fourth (basically fifth) round is a good value for a backup. Despite criticism of Jones ranging from his accuracy to his ability to read coverages, Whaley seems to have full confidence in his ability to grow into an NFL-caliber quarterback, citing his more than 60 percent completion percentage. Combined with Jones’ powerful arm, which will come in handy in the windy winter weather in Buffalo, his poise in the pocket and his ability to extend plays with his legs, Jones would seem to be a natural fit in Buffalo’s system. With an 11-0 record as a starter--the best winning percentage for an Ohio State quarterback--Jones is a proven winner, especially against great teams such as those faced in the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014.