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Jalyn Holmes is ready to solidify his draft stock at the NFL Combine this week

The senior defensive end hopes to prove his versatility among the nation’s best.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s something I always watched when I was younger. I’m not going to say it’s the same as the draft (itself). But right now it’s my Super Bowl.”

-Ohio State defensive end Jalyn Holmes, via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

On a defensive line crowded with talent, senior defensive end Jalyn Holmes managed just two sacks during his final year at Ohio State last season. Those numbers, however, don’t speak to the talent that Holmes showed throughout his time in Columbus and beyond. In the Senior Bowl earlier this year, Holmes recorded an additional two sacks which helped to improve his draft stock heading into this week’s NFL Scouting Combine. Currently, Holmes is projected as a second-day pick, going somewhere in the second or third round. Many NFL teams see Holmes’ potential, but not necessarily his production, given the fact he played on such a talented line and split time with so many other future NFL prospects.

The combine offers a chance for Holmes to solidify his spot in the mind of NFL scouts. He has been working out at the EXOS facility in Phoenix since January, trying to improve his 40-yard dash time and bench press while solidifying interview skills for his sessions with scouts from individual teams. Even before those tests, however, Holmes has an advantage when it comes to his medical evaluation. Despite playing four seasons of Division I football, he has managed to remain healthy, avoiding surgery and major injury. That strong medical history certainly will help to east scouts’ minds as they evaluate Holmes as a potential fit for their teams.

Moving into the combine, the 40-yard dash in particular gives Holmes a chance to differentiate himself from other defensive linemen. At 6-foot-5, 280-pounds, Holmes is hoping for a 4.7-second time to show that he can be light on his feet despite his size. For the bench press, Holmes has extra incentive for extra reps, as he is using the event to raise funds for Option2, a charity which provides services for student athletes in Holmes’ native state of Virginia.

“I think they are great. And thankful they are thinking of me.”

-Former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, via Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

When Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier went down after making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals in December, football fans across the country held their collective breath, watching as Shazier didn’t seem to move for several minutes. It was the scariest moment of the pro football season, and it was only months later--when Shazier stood up during an ovation in his honor at a Pittsburgh Penguins game--that fans were able to truly breathe, knowing that what seemed to be paralysis below the waist appeared to be averted. Shazier had undergone spine stabilization surgery shortly after his injury and was later transported to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While he has still been seen in a wheelchair, he was ultimately cleared for outpatient care Feb. 1.

Shazier was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 15-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He finished his college career at Ohio State 15th in program history in career tackles with 315.

After his injury, the Ohio State program rushed to support Shazier, producing shirts for players to wear during practice declaring “Buckeye Tough” on the front, and featuring both Shazier’s pro number with the Steelers (50) and collegiate number (10) on the sleeves. Shazier appreciated the effort, certainly, and even had a special message for the Buckeyes Cruise for Cancer, thanking Buckeye nation and the Ohio State football family for their support. “[I want to get] back out there on the field and be able to run around with my family,” Shazier said. “Right now that’s my main goal. I just want to say thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you’re doing and all the support you’re doing.”

We are so grateful to see the progress that Ryan has made so far, and continue to wish him a speedy recovery.

“Instead, Ohio State can focus on simply chasing a championship and further validating the remarkable turnaround Holtmann and his scrappy roster have produced.”

-Austin Ward, Land of 10

Expectations were exceedingly low for Ohio State basketball heading into the 2017-18 season. After missing two-straight NCAA Tournaments, hiring a new coach and losing a big chunk of its roster, finishing 11th in the Big Ten seemed a totally reasonable, albeit depressing, prediction for how the season would go. Now, however, those preseason predictions seem laughable. Somehow, in a year, Chris Holtmann has taken what was a lackluster squad last season and turned it into the second-best team in the Big Ten during the now-concluded regular season. With a conference tournament and assured NCAA Tournament berth awaiting, postseason expectations are now, by comparison, exceedingly high.

The Buckeyes finished their conference slate with a 15-3 record, with their only losses coming to Penn State (twice) and Michigan on the road. Some games were closer than what fans would have liked to have seen, like Ohio State’s five-point win over Nebraska, but others showed the offensive engine and stout defense that Keita Bates-Diop and company are capable of.

Ohio State will need to win three games to win the Big Ten Tournament. In its first-round game, the team will face the winner of Penn State/Northwestern--two teams that have been scrappy all season. If they advance, the Buckeyes will, more than likely, have to face Purdue. Another win will probably pit Ohio State against Michigan State. While doable (the Buckeyes have beaten both Purdue and Michigan State as underdogs this season), the path to a conference title is not an easy one. Even if the Buckeyes can’t make it all the way to the top, however, even a win over a bubble-Penn State team could go a long way to improving Ohio State’s seed in the NCAA Tournament. Winning it all could push Ohio State, who improved to No. 13 in the AP Poll this week, as high as a No. 2 seed.

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