Saturday was an eventful for day for the Ohio State Buckeyes as they enter their final three days of preparation for Tuesday’s Rose Bowl against the Washington Huskies. In addition to all of the on-field work that the Buckeyes certainly got in today, members of OSU’s offense also met with the media to answer questions and discuss their plans post-Rose Bowl.
Perhaps the juiciest bit of news to come out of the media availability came from quarterback Dwayne Haskins. He stuck by what he has been saying since the Big Ten Championship Game, and will decide whether he will return for another season in Columbus only after the bowl game.
“I’ve got until [Jan.] 15th to make a decision, and I’m taking my time,” Haskins said according to Lettermen Row’s Austin Ward. “A lot of people dream about playing in the NFL, and not many get to achieve that. I’m one of the few people who get to, so I’m just taking it all in. Really the decision is just about what I want to do at the end of the day, and I haven’t made the decision yet. The pros and cons will weigh out when it comes to staying or leaving, so I’ll be fine either way.”
However, the Heisman finalist QB did admit that he had talked to his friend Justin Fields, who is considering a transfer from Georgia. Haskins said that he thinks that Fields is “a freak of nature” who is anxious to learn more about the what it takes to be a successful college quarterback.
He then conceded that while he doesn’t know what Fields will ultimately do, he does know that the former No. 2 recruit in the country is waiting to see whether or not Haskins decides to forgo his two years of collegiate eligibility or not.
While predicting what a young man in his early 20s will do is always a bit perilous, with every passing day, it looks more and more likely like Haskins would be a top-five pick in the NFL Draft, so it makes it less and less likely that he will pass up the NFL money and come back for his junior season.
While the announcement surprised most Ohio State fans, Buckeye center Michael Jordan was named a first-team All-American by both Sports Illustrated and CBS, and a second team member by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
That would seem to continue a tradition of offensive guards making the move inside to center for the Buckeyes, before said lineman heads to the NFL for a major pay day. However, in speaking on Saturday, Jordan indicated that whether or not he decides to forgo his senior year, there will be changes coming. Specifically, he wants to move back to guard in 2019, whether that’s in Columbus or the NFL.
The man that will ultimately be making that decision if Jordan comes back for his senior year seemed to support that idea. According to 247Sports’ Patrick Murphy, Ohio State head-coach-to-be Ryan Day said, “That will be the plan... And Josh [Myers] would be a guy that we look at at center. We looked at Malcolm Pridgeon in bowl practice. We worked on some of those changes, and Josh has really improved this year. That would be a nice move for us to move Josh to center and then Mike over to guard.”
If Jordan moved to guard and Myers took over at center, that should create a pretty impressive offensive line for whomever is taking the snaps in 2019. With Pridgeon graduating, you would expect a healthy Branden Bowen — or even rising-sophomore Wyatt Davis — to man the other guard position, and Thayer Munford, Joshua Alabi, and Nicholas Petit-Frere taking the tackle positions.
That sounds like a pretty good group protecting OSU’s QB, whether it’s Haskins, Fields, Tate Martell, Matthew Baldwin, Chris Chugunov, or anyone else.
Today's dose of drama for Ohio State: The Rose Bowl transcript misidentified Isaiah Prince and K.J. Hill, leading to a mixup that indicated Hill was "playing his last game" and declaring for the draft.— Austin Ward (@AWardSports) December 29, 2018
Hill indicated he hadn't made a decision yet.
I’m glad folks cleared this up before I finished writing the article saying that K.J. Hill was declaring for the draft. That being said, when you combine Hill, Haskins, and Jordan, those are three significant offensive players who will be making decisions about their future following the Rose Bowl.
But, that’s not the only side of the ball that is still waiting to see if veteran contributors will be back for 2019. While the OSU defense was less than impressive through most of the year, with like Malik Harrison, Kendall Sheffield, and Jordan Fuller eligible to depart, the two weeks between the Rose Bowl and the NFL declaration day will be as important as any in determining how the Buckeyes will look in 2019.