Ohio State football safety Ronnie Hickman to enter 2023 NFL draft

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State safety Ronnie Hickman said Tuesday he plans to enter next year’s NFL draft.

Hickman, who is a redshirt junior with two seasons of eligibility remaining, is participating in Senior Day festivities ahead of Saturday’s game against Michigan and confirmed it will be his last game at Ohio Stadium.

“I’m going to cherish it,” Hickman said, “and enjoy it the best I can.”

The other 22 players who will be introduced ahead of kickoff against the Wolverines are all seniors in eligibility. No other fourth-year juniors such as linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers and tight end Cade Stover are walking onto the field for recognition.  

Nov 5, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Ronnie Hickman (14) tackles Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Brendan Sullivan (10) during the second half of the NCAA football game at Ryan Field. Ohio State won 21-7. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

After leading the Buckeyes in tackles in a breakout season last fall, Hickman returned as a key piece for Jim Knowles’ rebuilt “safety-driven” defense.

Lining up as the strong safety, he has 48 tackles, an interception and five pass break-ups through 11 games.

He attributed his decision to declare for the draft at the end of this season to a desire to move forward in his career.

“Everyone’s clock starts ticking at a certain point,” Hickman said. “At some point it’s going to be time for everyone to take the next step, and I think that’s now.”

Asked if playing in the Horseshoe for a final time would add any personal stakes for him on Saturday, Hickman said it did not.

“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “I don’t think I need any more motivation.”

Last season’s 42-27 loss at Michigan, a defeat that kept the Buckeyes from winning the Big Ten and reaching the College Football Playoff, has remained at the forefront of the minds of players, especially this week as a rematch draws closer.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Hickman said. “I’m definitely eager, but you can’t look into it too deep. It’s Tuesday. I’m focused on having the best Tuesday practice we’ve had all year. You just got take it day by day.”

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

Get more Ohio State football news by listening to our podcasts