Four Juniors Considering NFL

Friday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on the campus of the Ohio State University, Jim Tressel, several Ohio State assistant coaches and a handful of players met with the media previewing their National Championship Game against Florida. One of the many topics that came up was the possible early departure of four potential NFL draft picks. We've filed a report on their status.

According to Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel on Friday afternoon, four junior Buckeyes have submitted their names to the NFL's draft advisory panel.

Each year, draft-eligible underclassmen can enter their names into a pre-draft committee that gives feedback on where prospective entrants might hear their names called in the NFL Draft. Friday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Tressel, his coaches and several players met with the media previewing their National Championship game against Florida, among other topics.

Kirk Barton, Antonio Pittman, Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn all submitted the necessary paperwork to the NFL awaiting consultation on their possible draft position.

"It was Coach Tressel's idea," Gonzalez said. "He thought it would be a good idea for me to turn it in to see what they say."

Although the four players will have their own individual criteria when determining whether or not to depart early for the NFL, it's a choice that will be weighing heavily on their minds after the BCS Championship game on Jan. 8.

For the 6-1 Gonzalez, who had 49 receptions for 723 yards and 8 touchdowns this season, the NFL committee projections are unlikely to make an impact.

"I'm only going to listen to the people that I trust," Gonzalez added. "I trust my family and I trust Coach Tressel. That's it."

While Gonzalez maintains he's still planning to return, most people have not expected as much from another Buckeye receiver.

Ted Ginn has long been expected to leave for the NFL following his junior season. Ginn improved drastically from his sophomore season, leading Ohio State in yards (761), receptions (59) and touchdowns (9).

OSU wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell has been impressed with Ginn's progress.

"I'm so proud of him - he's come so far in three years," he said of Ginn. "Just this year, you watch the first game until now and he's come so far. It's the little things, the little details that you guys probably don't see studying the film...He's only scratching the surface, that's the scary part."

The question remains whether the 6-1 Ginn is ready for the NFL.

"I don't know, we'll see after the championship game," Hazell said with a laugh.

Hazell is hoping to coach his star pupil for one more season.

"What would I like to do with him? I'd like to keep him here for about 25 more years," Hazell added jokingly.

In considering the NFL, Pittman rushed for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Should he return, he would continue the successful combination of he and freshman tailback Chris Wells.

Much like Gonzalez, Pittman remained non-committal about whether he would return for his senior season.

It's likely they all will take a wait-and-see approach.

"We're just awaiting some information so that we can make some good decisions," said Tressel. "It's part of the deal."

"Our focus is Florida right now," Hazell added. "We're not worried about who's filing what."

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