There’s little doubt Ohio State fans will hear a series of announcements after the Fiesta Bowl from the likes of defensive end Joey Bosa and others who finally officially declare their intentions to enter the NFL draft.
One draft-eligible player, Pat Elflein, gave the team some good news earlier this month by saying he would stay at Ohio State to play his final season. He didn’t play as a freshman in 2012 because of a foot injury but has played in every game of the past three seasons and started every game the last two seasons.
Elflein said it was a long process coming to a decision.
“I was really trying to delay it all year and not really think about it,” he said Tuesday at a Fiesta Bowl press conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. “You’ve got to focus. Toward the end of the season, you can submit that paperwork and get an evaluation. I did that.”
Elflein talked to senior left tackle Taylor Decker, who faced the same decision as a junior, and his parents and coaches.
“I pondered my decision, thinking of the pros of leaving and the pros of staying and what I could do here and what I could do at the next level,” Elflein said. “I just wanted to play center and play for the Buckeyes again.”
The Buckeyes plan to move Elflein from right guard to center. They are losing senior center Jacoby Boren, plus Decker and fifth-year senior Chase Farris. Left guard Billy Price will be the other returning starter.
Brady Taylor, Jamarco Jones, Demetrius Knox, Isaiah Prince and Centerville’s Evan Lisle will be among the players competing for the three open starting jobs.
“We’ll see how it plays out in the spring,” Elflein said. “Guys are going to have to battle it out to see who the best five are going to be. I don’t know yet.”
Elflein’s decision is a big one for the team. The Buckeyes are going to lose at least six and possibly as many as eight starters on offense. Keeping Elflein helps.
“We’re all excited about it,” he said. “It helps to have veteran guys on the O-line and definitely at center, making the calls. I’m excited about being back and excited to get some young talent in there on the line and see what they can do.”