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Buckeye Bits: Who declared for the 2021 NFL Draft and who’s coming back

All of the latest Ohio State news from around the beat and beyond.

Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Despite the college football season coming to an end, the Ohio State beat writers still have their work cut out for them. Over the last few days, several Ohio State football players announced whether or not they are declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft (and there are many more to come!), the then-No. 21 Ohio State men’s basketball team beat the then-No. 14 Fighting Illini, and Urban Meyer added a Buckeye legend to his coaching staff down in Jacksonville. Get caught up on all the latest news, notes and headlines below!

Who’s staying and who’s going?

As Gene wrote on Friday Shaun Wade is headed to the 2021 NFL Draft after a senior season that included 34 tackles, two interceptions, one touchdown and four pass breakups. Many believe the senior cornerback should return to Ohio State for one more year to bump up his draft stock, which took a hit after an underwhelming 2020 season. Most mock drafts have Wade going in the late second, early third round (compared to likely going in the first round in the 2020 NFL Draft had he declared last January).

One of the most surprising announcements of the weekend, Thayer Munford announced that he will be utilizing his additional year of eligibility provided by the NCAA, and will return for a fourth season as Ohio State’s starting left tackle.

After three seasons starting at left tackle and Pro Football Focus grading him as the fourth-best OT in the Big Ten after this past season, Munford could have easily declared for the draft and found success in doing so. But hey, if he wants to be a Buckeye one more year, far be it from me to complain about that decision!

This one hurts. Right as Trey Sermon was hitting his stride (and by stride I mean breaking all-time rushing records in one half of a game), the senior running back suffered an injury in what felt like one second into the National Championship game. He never returned to the game, marking the last time Sermon would play for Ohio State as he announced on Sunday that he is declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.

In 116 attempts, Sermon rushed for 870 yards, averaging 7.5 yards per attempt and four touchdowns. He also had 12 catches for 95 yards. While I wish we could have one more full season with Sermon, I’m thankful he chose to end his college career as a Buckeye.

While we got lucky with Munford returning, another offensive lineman has elected to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Junior center Josh Myers could see himself go pretty early in the draft, as he was a finalist for the 2020 Rimington trophy — awarded to college football’s top center— and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for his efforts this past season.

Despite a season battling a groin injury and a positive COVID-19 test that prevented him from playing in the National Championship, senior Blake Haubeil is declaring for the draft. In his last season as a Buckeye, Haubeil made five of his seven field goal attempts and made all 24 of his extra points.

Joining Haubeil in the big leagues is fellow specialist Drue Chrisman. Chrisman was one of the best punters to ever wear scarlet and gray, and is also one of the highest rated punters in this year’s draft class. This past season, the senior had a gross average of 45 yards, a net average of 39.9 and 11 inside 20s.

Another delightful surprise, tight end Jeremy Ruckert announced that he is not finished being a Buckeye. After what was one of the most impressive seasons we’ve seen from an Ohio State tight end in quite some time—especially in the Sugar Bowl and the National Championship— I was almost certain that the junior would carry that momentum into the NFL Draft.

Ruckert finished his junior season with 13 catches for 151 yards and five touchdowns, including two touchdowns against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. Still, he believes he can improve his game, and thus improve his draft stock even further in his fourth year as a Buckeye.

As I write this, senior linebacker Baron Browning just announced his decision to try his hand at the NFL. Browning had a productive senior season, recording 29 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups.

Welp. Did not see this one coming. Chris Olave (yes, that Chris Olave) is returning for his senior year at Ohio State. The junior WR had 50 receptions for 729 yards and seven touchdowns in his 2020 season. The receiver room would have been just fine had Olave decided to leave for the NFL, but it just got even better. Brian Hartline is a wizard.

And last but absolutely definitely certainly not even close to being least, Justin Fields has elected to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. This is not surprising, as many mock drafts have the former Buckeye quarterback going in the top 10, if not the top five come April. Nevertheless, I don’t know about you, but I was still holding onto a tiny bit of hope that Fields would return to Columbus for just one last year.

In two seasons (actually more like one and a half seasons) at Ohio State, Fields completed over 68% of his passes for nearly 5,373 yards, 63 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He also rushed for 867 yards and 15 touchdowns. In 2019, Fields became the first quarterback in Big Ten history with 40 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in the same season, and in 2020, he broke Ohio State’s single-season record with a 70.2 completion percentage. Some people would argue that Justin Fields is the best quarterback in Ohio State history, and those people would be correct.

Schlegel to Jacksonville...

Former Ohio State linebacker and assistant strength and conditioning coach, Anthony Schlegel is rejoining Urban Meyer’s coaching staff. Only this time, it’s in Jacksonville as the Jaguars’ head strength and conditioning coach.

Schlegel played for the Buckeyes from 2003-2005, followed by two seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals. He then joined then-Ohio State head coach Meyer’s strength and conditioning staff in 2011 under Mickey Marotti. And if none of that rings a bell, the photo and video below oughta do it.

Ohio State men’s basketball climbing the polls...

After beating both Illinois (formerly ranked No. 14) and Northwestern last week, the Buckeyes find themselves bumped from No. 21 to No. 15 in the AP Poll’s latest ranking. They have their work cut out for them however, as they’re set to face both Purdue— who Holtmann said is one of the most physical teams the Buckeyes have played against— and No. 10 Wisconsin this week.

Miscellaneous...

This photo resurfaced a lot of repressed high school memories for me.

And I’ll just leave you with this video— aka one of the best videos I’ve seen in a long, long time.


This week’s top stories from around Land-Grant Holy Land

Don’t forget to check out our latest stuff over on the home page! I pulled a few I think you’ll enjoy the most. Check them out below.