Cornerback Jeff Okudah will forgo senior season at Ohio State, enter NFL draft

Bill Rabinowitz
Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah (1), here celebrating a third-down stop against Wisconsin on Oct. 26, is considered the top cornerback eligible for the 2020 NFL draft. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Junior cornerback Jeff Okudah on Wednesday became the second Ohio State underclassman to announce that he would enter the 2020 NFL draft.

“Free Jefe. Jeremiah 29:11,” Okudah wrote on Twitter.

Like running back J.K. Dobbins, who announced his decision on Monday, Okudah foregoing his senior season was considered a certainty. He is projected as a possible top-five selection in the draft.

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In a statement, Okudah thanked God, Ohio State and Columbus.

“As I embark on the next part of my journey, I leave feeling like there was still more to be accomplished by this team,” he wrote. “However, I also leave knowing that the competitive excellence that makes Ohio State the best university in the country has been in place long before I arrived and will continue long after I leave.

Free Jefe. Jeremiah 29:11.

— Jeff Okudah (@jokudah) January 1, 2020

“It has been my honor to be a part of a brother as strong as the one here at Ohio State. I hope that during my time here that I did not only grasp but embodied what it means to be a Buckeye.”

Okudah, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Grand Prairie, Texas, was a unanimous All-American this season after proving to be a shutdown cornerback on the Buckeyes’ vastly improved defense. He was first-team All-Big Ten and a finalist for the Thorpe Award given to the country’s top defensive back. He was also an OSU Scholar-Athlete for having a grade-point average of at least 3.0.

Okudah had three interceptions and was credited with nine pass breakups even though opponents usually avoided throwing his way. Okudah also forced two fumbles.

He would have been credited with a third forced fumble if not for the controversial replay-review reversal of a strip he had against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal loss. The reversal to an incompletion negated a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Jordan Fuller that would have given Ohio State the lead.

Okudah was a five-star prospect in Ohio State’s banner 2017 recruiting class. The only player ranked above Okudah in that Buckeyes’ class was defensive end Chase Young, who’s considered likely to be a top-two pick in the NFL draft. Young has not declared for the draft yet.

Fellow cornerback Shaun Wade will announce on Saturday from his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, whether he will also leave for the NFL.


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