Ohio State defensive end Jonathon Cooper plans to redshirt, then return for a fifth season next fall.
Cooper, a senior and one of the team’s seven captains, has been limited for most of this season after suffering a high-ankle sprain in August.
Under NCAA rules implemented last year, players can appear in as many as four games and still redshirt.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
Cooper has played in three games, a stretch that began at Nebraska on Sept. 28 and continued through Northwestern on Oct. 18, his last appearance. But he has played sparingly and totaled only two tackles without a sack.
“I think it's the best decision for him to make because of how his season went,” said Jashon Cornell, a fifth-year senior defensive tackle for the Buckeyes. “For him to go out like that as a senior is not right. Coop is one of the best defensive ends we've got. And I feel like next year, when he plays, he's going to be at a whole ‘nother level.”
Last season, Cooper started for the first time and finished with 25 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, becoming an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection and showing some promise after he once arrived as one of the top prospects in Ohio in his recruiting class in 2016. Cooper previously starred at Gahanna.
Because of his intention to redshirt, Cooper did not participate in festivities on senior day Saturday that recognized the departing players before kickoff of Ohio State’s 28-17 win over Penn State.
To qualify for a redshirt, Cooper can appear in only one more game this season, though it was unclear which game he might appear in.
Cooper was considered available to play against the Nittany Lions, went through warmups and was in uniform on the sideline, but never appeared in the game.
A return for next season also allows him a chance to better his NFL draft prospects.