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Kendall Sheffield is the fastest player in college football

The cornerback has one more reason to dazzle us all next season.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

“The Buckeyes’ two-sport star is next in line among the parade of NFL draft prospects from the Ohio State DB room. But on the track, he’s fearsome as well.”

-Chase Goodbread, NFL.com

Expectations are already sky high for sophomore cornerback Kendall Sheffield. He is the de facto star in Ohio State’s secondary, following a lineage which includes the likes of Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward. In 2017, he was the top cornerback coming out of junior college, and No. 4 junior college prospect overall. Last season, Sheffield was second on the team in passes defended with nine, just behind Ward.

Sheffield now has one more accolade raising expectations as he heads into his sophomore campaign. NFL.com ranked Sheffield as the fastest player in college football based on a variety of factors, including 40-yard dash time and track and field results. Sheffield is actually a dual-sport athlete, competing in both football and track and field. Most notably, Sheffield broke the indoor record for the 60-meter dash, clocking in at 6.663 seconds.

Sheffield’s coaches have praised him for being just as fast as Ward, who was tied for the fastest 40-time in the NFL Scouting Combine this season at 4.32 seconds. However, not everyone on the team was as impressed with the rankings.

“It was a good workout. I thought we all competed and it was good all around.”

-Former Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop, via Patrick Murphy, 247Sports

It’s been three years since an Ohio State player was taken in the NBA Draft. D’Angelo Russell was the last Buckeye chosen when he was selected with the No. 2-overall pick in 2015 by the Lakers. That trend looks to change this season, however, as Keita Bates-Diop looks to become the next Ohio State player taken in the first round of the draft.

While the forward’s draft stock has slipped somewhat since the initial mock drafts at the end of the college basketball season, Bates-Diop is still seen as a potential late first-round pick. He has worked out for half a dozen teams and attended the NBA Scouting Combine last month. Most recently, Bates-Diop worked out for the Pacers. Bates-Diop was joined at his workout by power forward Gary Clark (Cincinnati), guard A.J. Davis (Central Florida), guard Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova), forward Alize Johnson (Missouri State) and guard Shake Milton (SMU). Of this group, only DiVincenzo, the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, is rated higher than Bates-Diop in mock drafts.

Bates-Diop worked out first for the L.A. Lakers in early May prior to the combine. After, he spent time with the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, at the latter workout during media interviews, Bates-Diop began feeling back pain. While he recovered, the moment was still a scary one and may have set him back with the Jazz. Still, the former Buckeye went on to workout with two more teams in the west in Phoenix and Portland.

While Bates-Diop had one more season of eligibility remaining at Ohio State, it came as no surprise that he chose to enter the draft. The redshirt junior had already earned his degree and ended the season with Big Ten Player of the Year honors. It was far and above his best collegiate season, played during Chris Holtmann’s inaugural year as head coach. He finished the season averaging 19.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

“Beyond the overall numbers, the other thing that stands out about this year’s tight end roster is the lack of experience, as none of them has ever started a game--marking the first time Meyer has entered a season in Columbus without a tight end with any starting experience.”

-Dan Hope, Eleven Warriors

Tight end has never seemed to be a major area of focus under Urban Meyer. While Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett were selected in the third round of subsequent drafts, none of Meyer’s other tight ends have proven to be standouts on that level. Now, with two-year starter Marcus Baugh moving on to the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent, Meyer is left with very little experience among his remaining tight ends. Contributing to this lack of veteran talent is the fact that two of the tight ends on last year’s roster--A.J. Alexander and Kierre Hawkins--are no longer on the team, Alexander due to injury and Hawkins having transferred to Youngstown State. Meyer also has just one incoming tight end in the 2018 recruiting class in four-star Jeremy Ruckert.

Ohio State will have seven tight ends listed on the roster heading into the 2018 season. That’s down one from last season and two from Meyer’s high of nine in 2016. Moreover, in 2017, six of the players listed were on scholarship. Three of those listed on the roster for this fall are walk-ons, and only redshirt junior Rashod Berry, who played in 14 games at tight end, has any significant collegiate experience at the position. None has started a game.

Still, of the recruited players on the roster, three-of-four are former four-star recruits, including Ruckert. Redshirt sophomores Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann, also touted recruits, saw limited action last season. Their youth may present challenges this season, especially as Meyer breaks in a new quarterback, but could set the unit up nicely for a strong corps of tight ends in 2019. In addition, Meyer has been comfortable keeping around four scholarship tight ends on the roster. Last year’s high was an exception to Meyer’s traditional set up. Given the limited use that tight ends have seen under Meyer, the unit as it stands, even with a lack of experience, should be well-positioned moving forward.

“For this college athlete to take the time and recognize the sacrifice of our fallen comrade and their Gold Star family, without seeking publicity, shows what great character this young man has.”

-Col. Patrick Colloton, via Jim Thompson, Northwest Florida Daily News

One of the most touching projects that Urban Meyer has instituted at Ohio State has been the Memorial Day tradition of writing letters to families of fallen service members. Most recently, a letter written by defensive end Nick Bosa made its way into the news at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

“The fact that I am able to get up every day without questioning my security makes me unbelievably proud to be an American and thankful to have brave heroic people like Nicholas watching over me,” Bosa said in the letter. “For Nicholas’ family members, I want to say that he will never be forgotten, and the courageous acts that he did will also be appreciated not only by me, but everyone on the team.”

The letter was addressed to the family of Sgt. Nicholas Casey of the Army 7th Special Forces Group. Casey was a Canton, Ohio native who passed away in 2008 in Afghanistan. Casey’s brother, Sam, shared photos of the handwritten letter via Twitter last week. While Bosa did not comment directly, he acknowledged “My handwriting stinks, I know. I’m a lefty if it helps my cause…” in response to the tongue-in-cheek criticism of his scrawl.

Bosa’s letter also drew comments from Col. Patrick Collerton, commander of the 7th Special Forces Group in Florida. “The low-key gesture of reaching out and thanking the family of a fallen member of the military, and of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) speaks to the heart of why we serve and why we remember,” Collerton said.

The Buckeyes shared a video on Memorial Day as well, which featured linebacker Justin Hilliard, wide receiver Terry McLaurin and defensive tackle Robert Landers reading portions of their respective letters. The video also showed Jarod Gray, a current Ohio State student and military veteran, and Michael Carrell, director of Ohio State’s military and veteran services program. Both spoke with the team, providing guidance on how to write the letters to the families.

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