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Ohio State’s Jordan Fuller helped highlight the path to becoming a starter

From special teams to starter, Jordan Fuller followed the blueprint and there’s plenty of candidates to replicate it.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

“Stick with it. Do whatever you can for the team. Once you have that mindset, stuff will start happening for you.”

- Jordan Fuller via Tim Bielik,

Jordan Fuller’s story isn’t a new one to Ohio State or any other major college football program, but it does give a nice view into the blueprint that helps commits see what it takes to get onto the football field as a starter. Fuller came to the Buckeyes as a well-regarded recruit, mainly as a safety, but he wasn’t an immediate starter. Instead, Fuller worked from the ground up, starting his career on special teams and proving to the coaching staff he could make plays and do the dirty work. This season, Fuller grew into a starting spot at safety and has made an important impact on the Buckeyes defense.

Ohio State has plenty of players waiting in the wings to follow in Fuller’s footsteps, and many of them are names that should be familiar. Perhaps the best chance at replicating the same success Fuller has had this season is cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, who has had plenty of hype surrounding him since he joined the Buckeyes. Okudah has been all over the field on special teams and even got some game time at his true position — where he should make a real name for himself next season. Other candidates include linebacker Baron Browning, and Isaiah Pryor.

“He's [Emory Jones] expected to sign his National Letter of Intent on the first day of the new early signing period, and enroll early.

Just don't expect that letter to be faxed to Ohio State.”

- Bill Landis,

With the early national signing about to take place, Ohio State fans are eager to see who will become the next set of Buckeyes. But one name might not be among those that sign early. 2018 quarterback Emory Jones has been a commit since July of 2016, but for the majority of the 2017 season, the rumors have swirled that Jones was thinking of flipping to Alabama or another school altogether.

Now that decision time is here, it’s seemingly come down between the Buckeyes, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, and Auburn. The Gators are considered the favorite, despite Jones being committed to the Buckeyes through all of his official visits to other schools.

Still, most experts are picking Florida, but regardless a vast majority agree that Jones isn’t likely to end up at Ohio State. It would be a tough loss for Urban Meyer, as Jones has been one of the centerpieces of the 2018 recruiting class.

“There will be tons of attention on USC quarterback Sam Darnold as the draft hype builds, and if Ward succeeds in helping slow him down, that’s going to stick in the minds of decision-makers around the league.”

- Austin Ward, Land of 10

With the recent news of players sitting out of bowl games the past two seasons to save themselves from injury on their way to the NFL, Ohio State has popped up into the discussion this season with cornerback Denzel Ward. Ward seems likely to play in the bowl game, but it is a possibility that he could choose to skip it. Austin Ward of Land of 10 doesn’t think Ward will skip the bowl game, citing that the brotherhood between the players in Columbus is much too strong for that to happen.

Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette were big names that decided to forego their bowl game last year, while this year Oregon’s Royce Freeman skipped his team’s bowl game against Boise State. It doesn’t appear that anyone on Ohio State (Sam Hubbard, Ward, or Jerome Baker) has made the choice to skip, but it’s still an outside possibility. Ward is likely a higher first round draft pick and could impress scouts even more against USC’s Sam Darnold, another hot pick for the NFL.