With two words last week, Dre’Mont Jones created speculation about whether the defensive tackle had already played his last game as an Ohio State Buckeye.
“We’ll see,” Jones said as he walked away from the podium last Sunday when asked whether he would play in the Rose Bowl against Washington.
On Wednesday, Jones confirmed he will forgo his final year of eligibility at Ohio State and enter the 2019 NFL draft. But Jones also said that he would be playing in the Rose Bowl.
It’s not unusual for a player to skip his team’s bowl game when he is expected to go early in the NFL draft, as Jones is. Cornerback Denzel Ward, the eventual No. 4 overall pick of the 2018 draft, sat out Ohio State’s Cotton Bowl victory over Southern California last season.
Not so with Jones.
“I want to finish what I started,” Jones said. “With everything we’ve been through, I don’t want to leave and do my own thing just yet because I still have another game to play.”
Jones earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as voted by the conference’s coaches. He has 8½ sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
Jones considered declaring for the NFL draft after last season but decided to return. He also earned academic All-Big Ten honors and is scheduled to graduate this month.
“I think it was a great decision for me to come back,” Jones said. “I kind of proved myself. Instead of it just being talk and having Nick (Bosa) say or other players say that I’m talented and me not showing it, I was able to show it myself.”
Jones is a fourth-year junior, but there is zero chance of him staying for his final year of eligibility.
“I’m leaving,” he said. “It’s no secret.”
Just not until after the Rose Bowl.
Johnson apparently staying
When Ryan Day takes over as head coach on Jan. 3 when Urban Meyer’s retirement takes effect, he will have autonomy to assemble his own coaching staff.
Among those he is likely to want to keep is defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who is regarded as one of the best in the country at both recruiting and developing players. Defensive end Chase Young said Johnson will remain with the Buckeyes in 2019.
“He told me he’s going to be back,” said Young, a sophomore. “If y’all know who coach Johnson is, he’s a man of his word. So he’ll be back.”
In support of Haskins
When Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting and was treated by some in the national media as an afterthought, Buckeyes receivers were vocal on social media expressing their frustration.
Right tackle Isaiah Prince said he felt similarly.
“I thought that was kind of disrespectful that he was the invisible man when he should have been the winner,” Prince said. “But it is what it is, and God has a bigger plan. To have success, you have got to have failure, and maybe God is trying to show Dwayne something. Maybe it was not for him. Maybe he has a bigger plan for Dwayne.”
Prince is a fifth-year senior and fellow Maryland native. He said he was proud of Haskins’ growth.
“It is like watching your little brother grow up,” he said. “I remember Dwayne coming in as a freshman and he was nervous to talk. Saying the cadence, he was so quiet.
“Just seeing him become this leader and this great player at Ohio State, I am just happy for him as an older brother. It is a feeling that I cannot describe.”