Time is ticking for the draft-eligible juniors for the Ohio State Buckeyes and one of the big pieces of the BCS title run of 2007 has announced that he is coming back.
Already this week a number of media outlets have reported that junior wide receiver Brian Robiskie has decided to return to Ohio State for his senior season rather than making the early jump to the NFL.
Friday the Buckeyes got an even bigger announcement, when All-America cornerback Malcolm Jenkins announced he would be following Robiskie's lead of returning to play another year of college football in Columbus.
"After a great deal of deliberation, I have decided to remain at Ohio State for 2008 to complete my degree and my football career," Jenkins said.
Meanwhile defensive end Vernon Gholston has gone the other direction. The junior from Detroit, Mich. announced he will forgo his senior season in Columbus and make himself eligble for the 2008 NFL draft.
"It is with profound emotion, yet great anticipation, that I announce my decision to forgo my senior year of collegiate eligibility as a member of the Ohio State football team and enter the 2008 National Football League draft," Gholston said in a statement. "I reached this conclusion through strategic meditation with my close family, coaches and teammates. The decision to enter the 2008 NFL draft will best serve our interests and future."
There is little doubt that Monday night's 38-24 loss to LSU in the BCS National Championship game had a big impact on both players as they deliberated over their futures.
"I don't feel that I've accomplished everything I can accomplish in college football, and there's still a lot for me to conquer and shoot for: the national championship, another Big Ten championship, the Thorpe Award," Jenkins said. "And I really look forward to the honors and perks associated with being a senior on this team."
For Gholston, it was a decision based on what he felt was best for his family and his future.
"As a son and as a man, it is my duty to serve and support my family to the best of my abilities. My childhood dream was, and still is, to one day be fortunate enough to do just that. I feel that time has come," Gholston said. "It has always been my goal to compete and succeed at the highest level of my profession. The National Football League is just that, and I now feel prepared to embark upon this task. It's been through blessings, hard work, dedication and the help and support of so many others that I have been given this opportunity to do so."
Gholston redshirted as a sophomore in 2005, so next season would have been his fifth in Columbus. As for Jenkins, the chance to stick around and earn a degree meant a lot for the Piscataway (N.J.) native as well and weighed heavily in his decision.
"I'm on track to graduate next spring in communications, which will make my mom very happy," Jenkins said. "I have received a lot of good advice from coaches, friends and family and it has boiled down to one message: Figure out what's important to you and follow your heart."
Not to be forgotten in Jenkins' decision is the rare opportunity for Ohio State to play USC next season in Los Angeles, along with one more chance to play Michigan at home with a 4-0 career record on the line.
"We have a great schedule next year, which should be a whole lot of fun," Jenkins said.
With a young team coming back with another year of experience under their belts the return of Jenkins will mean a lot to a team looking to get back to the top of the heap.
"My whole class is still here; we came in together and always planned on leaving at the same time. I'm just having fun right now and there are some things you can't put a price on," Jenkins said. "I'm not sure I want to turn football into a career just yet."
Although Gholston is ready to do so, it is with a heavy heart he leaves his OSU teammates and the Buckeye fans behind.
"My journey as an Ohio State football player comes to an end, but my passion and pride as a Buckeye will live forever," Gholston said. "My time at The Ohio State University has connected me with so many great people and memories; I will remember and cherish them for the rest of my life."
The National Football League draft will be held April 26-27, 2008, in New York City. Players have until January 15th to make a decision on their NFL Draft status.
Players like James Laurinaitis, Alex Boone and Marcus Freeman have not gone public with their decisions to date.
Quotes are courtesy of the Ohio State Athletics Communications Office