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Ohio State is on an incredible run as an NFL pipeline

Buckeyes keep entering the league and lighting it up

Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium Jose Carlos Fajardo/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

“Over the last five NFL drafts, a staggering 40 former Buckeyes have heard their names called. Twelve of those 40 selections came in the first round and another seven came in the second, meaning nearly half of those draftees were high-round picks.”

- David Regimbal, Eleven Warriors

It certainly isn’t the hardest of tasks for Ryan Day to try and convince the nation’s top athletes to come play for Ohio State. It helps when you can show a recruit your program’s recent success at producing top-tier NFL talent, especially when that list includes three of the last four NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year winners, a two-time NFL rushing leader and an Offensive Player of the Year — all within the past five years.

Former Buckeyes have been getting it done at the next level on both sides of the ball, and while the defensive guys have been the ones getting a lot of the recognition, the dudes on offense have been no slouches.

Ezekiel Elliot helped Ohio State win the National Championship in 2014, and all he’s done since is lead the NFL in rushing yards in both 2016 and 2018 while averaging nearly 100 yards per game in his four seasons in the league. Michael Thomas, a second round pick, holds the NFL record for receptions through a player’s first four seasons with 470, while also breaking Marvin Harrison’s record for receptions in a season with 149 catches in 2019 — a year in which he took home OPOY.

Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin were the two latest Buckeye weapons on offense to make the NFL, both playing significant roles on the Washington Redskins. McLaurin had a phenomenal rookie year, catching 58 passes for 919 yards and seven TDs. Haskins got off to a slow start, but the former Heisman contender really got into a groove once being named the full-time starter, throwing for seven TDs and only three picks after earning the job.

The defensive players Ohio State has been producing are absolutely ridiculous. A Buckeye has won Defensive Rookie of the Year in three of the last four seasons, with Joey Bosa and Marshon Lattimore winning back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and Nick Bosa taking home the award this season. It could have been four straight years had Denzel Ward not missed some time with injury his rookie season, as the corner has quickly become the star of the Cleveland Browns’ secondary.

A handful of other defenders have seen some success in recent years as well, including guys like Vonn Bell, Gareon Conley, Sam Hubbard and more.

With players like Chase Young and Jeff Okudah likely both entering the league as top-five picks in this year’s NFL Draft, it does not look like Ohio State’s NFL pipeline will be slowing down anytime soon. As a result, the recruiting business should continue to boom — a reflection of the program’s ability to develop players for the next level.

“No new updates on [the D.J. Carton] situation. As I said after the game, and I certainly didn’t want to overshadow our team’s performance, but I thought most importantly we wanted people to know we were supporting him. I don’t have any time frame or update.”

- OSU head coach Chris Holtmann via Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch

Obviously one of the biggest stories surrounding the Ohio State mens basketball team is the leave of absence taken by point guard D.J Carton to focus on his mental health. After the team defeated Indiana on Saturday, head coach Chris Holtmann voiced his support for the freshman, and even spoke of his anger towards the people who have anything negative to say about Carton’s decision.

On his weekly radio spot on Monday, Holtmann did not have any new updates on Carton’s situation, but obviously stated that he and the team are still 100 percent behind him every step of the way. The head coach called it a fluid situation, and while he acknowledged that Carton is clearly a player that helps the Buckeyes win games, there are more important things in life than winning basketball games and being healthy is a top priority.

“I would never ask a guy that tore cartilage in his knee to keep playing. Why would I do that? That’s not in his best interest. Mental health is no different,” Holtmann said.

Ohio State is no stranger to being at the forefront when it comes to athletes and mental health, as Ryan Day and his wife Christina have always been very outspoken on the issue and have helped a few current and former Buckeyes, including most recently Robert Landers, speak out about their problems in an effort to help others.

Holtmann did not provide any information in terms of a timetable for his return, as neither party is likely fully aware of when that could take place. Whenever Carton does decide he is ready to return to the court, he will certainly have the full support of his coaches, teammates, Buckeye Nation and everyone here at LGHL.

Jaelen Gill certainly has not been delivering those moments as much as he anticipated since signing with Ohio State. But when they come to the surface, they can be breathtaking — and a reminder of why this offseason and the upcoming spring camp represent such a critical point in his career with the Buckeyes.”

- Austin Ward, Lettermen Row

With so much talent leaving for the NFL this offseason, spring camp is going to be incredibly important for a bunch of guys in terms of earning starting jobs in 2020. While many of these position battles will take place on the defensive side of the ball, Ohio State is still looking for some options on offense. The running back position has been discussed exhaustingly with the departure of J.K. Dobbins, but the Buckeyes will also need to find a slot receiver to take over for the program’s career leader in receptions in K.J. Hill.

That is where Jaelen Gill comes into play. Originally listed as a running back, Gill was a four-star recruit in the 2018 class, and was the No. 30 player in the nation and No. 2 player in the state of Ohio. There was tremendous promise for the obviously gifted athlete, ranked ahead of others in Ohio State’s recruiting class including Jeremy Ruckert, Josh Proctor and Chris Olave (who himself we now know was criminally underrated).

Despite his standing coming out of high school, Gill has yet to make an impact at the next level. In his two seasons on campus, the wide receiver has played in just five games, catching seven passes for 62 yards and one touchdown. He has not quite been able to secure any sort of consistent playing time to this point, but with this new opportunity in front of him, it could be Gill’s time to shine.

The slot receiver has become an incredibly important role in Ohio State’s offense. Hill was a tremendous asset for quarterback Justin Fields with his sturdy hands, and guys like Parris Campbell and Curtis Samuel before him provided a burst of speed that was tough to stop inside the hash marks. Gill could be the next man up to fill that role, but he will have to put on a strong showing in camp to make that a reality.

With Olave and Garrett Wilson having already locked up the two outside spots, there will be some hefty competition for that lone slot position. If Gill has any chance of finally making an impact in year three, he will have to beat out the likes of five-star freshmen Julian Fleming and Jaxon Smith-Njigba — who are both more likely candidates to rotate in at the outside receiver spots — and second-year man Jameson Williams, a player with a very similar playing style to the aforementioned Campbell.

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