The Ohio State football team is not even a week removed from its Rose Bowl win but juniors are on the clock to make their intentions known for going pro or coming back. Three big decisions have come in on Tuesday afternoon and the Buckeyes are batting 2-for-3.
Junior defensive end Cameron Heyward is coming back to Columbus for his senior season. Heyward did not redshirt and is just finishing up his third season in the Scarlet and Gray. Heyward has recorded 115 tackles during his three year career to date and wants to have a chance to play one more season for the Buckeyes.
"I am excited about next season and am looking forward to being one of the senior leaders of our team," Heyward said, in a release provided by the university. "I sat down and talked at length with my family about my situation, and they totally support my decision. I've been blessed to this point. I am just having fun being a college student."
Heyward gives credit to other players who opted to return like Kurt Coleman and Doug Worthington for their senior seasons.
"I want to help our team achieve the goals of winning another Big Ten title and possibly accomplishing a national championship," Heyward said. "If I could win some recognition, that would be great as well. I think I can be a leader for our team, and I know another season will help me become a better player."
The Peachtree Ridge (Ga.) star is the son of the late NFL Star Craig 'Ironhead' Heyward and was named as an all-Big Ten performer this year. Cam was named Big Ten defensive player of the week after a 11 tackle, 3 TFL, 2 sack game against Penn State in 2009. Heyward is slated to graduate in spring of 2011 with a Bachelor's in Human Development.
Ohio State defensive lineman Thad Gibson is taking his game to the next level as the fourth year junior made it official on Tuesday afternoon by declaring for the 2010 NFL Draft via a statement. The former linebacker out of Euclid (Ohio) has been a dominating force over the past two seasons as a rush end in the Ohio State scheme but all good things must come to an end and the closing of one chapter opens a new one for Gibson.
Gibson saw his first action in 2007 in the season opener against Youngstown State, a game where he recorded his first career tackle and tackle for loss. Before his career ended the big man recorded 82 tackles including 25 for loss and a total of ten sacks. This season Gibson led the team with 13 tackles or loss to go along with four sacks and a pair of forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.
This season Gibson was named the Big Ten defensive player of the week after the Buckeyes played against Minnesota, a game where Gibson recorded three sacks and was just one sack off of the Ohio State single game record. Gibson was always seen as an imposing figure on the field but his off of the field demeanor was very different. Gibson could be kind of quiet in front of the press and showed a passion for music as well as his teammates.
"I am not leaving the Buckeye family," Gibson said in a statement released through Ohio State athletic communications. "I wish the team the very best in the upcoming years and I thank all my teammates for all their support. I will keep in touch with my Buckeye family and I love them all. I will always bleed Scarlet and Gray."
Gibson is scheduled to graduate in June with a degree in African-American Studies. Coming out of high school Rivals.com rated Gibson as a four star prospect at the linebacker position.
The third player to announce on Tuesday was cornerback Chimdi Chekwa. The junior out of Clermont (Fla.) has been considered a bit of a long shot to opt to go pro and on Tuesday afternoon he announced that he in fact would be coming back for a fourth season with the Buckeyes.
"I am not ready to leave Ohio State, and I am looking forward to my senior season. I prayed about this decision and talked about it with my parents, and I know this is the right decision for me," Chekwa said.
Chekwa is also a part of the Ohio State track team and he is looking forward to coming back for his senior season and building on what the team started at the end of this last season.
"I will graduate next fall, and I am looking forward to being a leader on what can be a very special defense for the Buckeyes," Chekwa said. "After the Rose Bowl win, we are working toward accomplishing more great things, including another Big Ten title and a run at the national championship."
Chekwa is on pace to graduate in December of 2010 with his degree in accounting.
Players have until January 15th to declare for the draft and have until 12:00 am ET on the 18th to withdraw from the draft if they so desire.