Off to the 2022 NFL draft? Ohio State juniors Garrett Wilson and Zach Harrison won't say yet
At a program like Ohio State, it's an annual question: Which juniors are likely to depart for the NFL?
At the top of the list are left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, wide receiver Garrett Wilson and defensive end Zach Harrison. Petit-Frere has elected to participate in Senior Day recognition, a strong indication of which way he's leaning.
Wilson and Harrison are also likely to leave, but neither are saying if they will.
Harrison didn't want to touch the topic when asked Tuesday.
"We've got to beat Michigan State," was his response when asked about his future.
Wilson was more expansive.
"I've most definitely thought about it," he said. "It all came fast. It doesn't seem like I've been here as long as I have. But when you play at a great program like Ohio State and play at the highest level, if you are one of the players involved with that, you're going to have the opportunity to make important decisions that are good decisions — good decisions to make but hard ones.
"I've put myself in a situation where I have that decision to make. It's a blessing, but I'm trying to focus on finishing the season the right way."
Wilson said he won't decide for sure until after the season. In early mock drafts, Wilson is a consensus first-rounder and Petit-Frere and Harrison possible first-rounders.
"I feel like I've gotten more consistent," Harrison said of his improvement this season. "Before, in my past two seasons. I would make plays and then I would go games without making any plays. Now I feel I'm impacting the game every week."
Offensive line shuffles for the Buckeyes
In recent weeks, Ohio State has juggled its offensive line during games. Some of that, coach Ryan Day said, is by design and some by circumstance.
Matt Jones has asserted himself as worthy of being a starter, and the Buckeyes have used him often at left guard. The line also shuffled for the Nebraska game because right tackle Dawand Jones felt sick before the game. Petit-Frere had missed practice time while attending the funeral of a relative in Florida. Day said right guard Paris Johnson has dealt with injuries.
A line depends on cohesion, and moving pieces can affect that. Against Nebraska, the offensive line didn't play to its standard. Against Purdue, the shifting of the line had no adverse effects. The Buckeyes scored almost at will.
"I thought we played well," Day said, "and we've got to continue to do that. We were rocking people off the ball, I thought we got a really good movement in the red zone. But we were clean. The combination blocks were clean. The pad level was much better. We played with really good energy. The protection was really good.
"(Purdue star defensive end George) Karlaftis was a big challenge, and they stepped up the challenge there. That's the type of play we need from the offensive line in November in the Big Ten."