Who's next? What OSU players at the NFL combine are saying about their Buckeye successors

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

INDIANAPOLIS – Eight Ohio State players are participating in the NFL combine this week, and in their media session they are usually asked about the next wave of Buckeyes who'll replace them.

Here is what they're saying:

Defensive end Zach Harrison

On the OSU defensive line in 2023: "I feel those guys are going to be real dominant, the best in the country, leading the nation in sacks, TFLs (tackles for losses) and all that, because everybody in that room is a great ballplayer. Everybody in the room has potential through the roof, and I know that they want to work and they want it. They want it bad. I'm excited to see what they do next year."

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On who in particular he thinks will break out: "You've seen J.T. (Tuimoloau) and Jack (Sawyer) play, but one guy I'm excited about is Caden Curry, a freshman. He's going to be a real good player, just the way he moves and his motor never stops. I'm excited to see what he does. Really just everybody but he's a guy who stands out to me that's going to be a real good player."

More:Ohio State football spring practice 2023 position preview: Defensive backs

On Kenyatta Jackson and Omari Obar: "I could say both of those guys' names as well. Caden was the first guy who came to my mind. Omari is still figuring it out but you can see flashes where it's in there and he's going to pull it out. He just has to get in the weight room and get a little bigger. I'm excited to see what Omari does. He's going to be a real good player for the Buckeyes in the future. The same for K.J. He's a young guy so it's OK. K.J. is gonna be one of those guys to be the next up because some of the things he does he doesn't even realize they're special because he's out there just playing football. I'm telling him, 'K.J., not everybody can do what you just did.' He doesn't even realize that. He's still young. So I'm excited to see those guys. They're all going to get bigger, stronger, faster, and just get more confident in their body and technique and playing speed."

Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Caden Curry (92) jogs onto the field during Saturday's NCAA Division I football game against the Toledo Rockets at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

Safety Ronnie Hickman

On his outlook for the OSU defense in 2023: "Amazing. Those guys are going to be ready and prepared. You've got Lathan Ransom. You've got Josh Proc(tor). You've got Denzel (Burke). You've got young guys coming up. The front seven is going to be off the charts. Those guys are hungry. They're highly motivated, and I'm excited to see them play. You guys should be, too."

On second-year safeties Sonny Styles and Kye Stokes: "Sonny and Kye are just two guys that are off the charts athletically. You've seen Sonny, and I think Kye is going to be a big eye-opener as well. Those guys are willing to do whatever it takes to win. They've listened. They take to coaching well, so I'm super excited for those guys. They have a really bright future.

"Both of those guys can do it all. Obviously, Sonny's bigger so he can drop down into the box a little bit more. Kye's a little bit faster, a more rangy kind of guy, but they're interchangeable. I'm super excited about those guys."

On quarterback Kyle McCord: "Don't sleep on Kyle. The guy can sling it. That guy can put the ball where it needs to be. And he still has some great weapons. Marvin Harrison, (Emeka Egbuka), JB (Jayden Ballard), all those guys still coming back. So I'm super-excited for the offense as well."

On Devin Brown, who's competing with McCord for the quarterback job: "Devin has a tremendous arm as well. He can put the ball pretty far out there. It's going to be a great battle between those guys, and I'm sure coach Day will make the right decision."

On safety Josh Proctor, who's a surprise returnee after losing a position battle with Lathan Ransom last year: "He's going to be the guy. You guys have been around our facility. You guys have seen him play. He's going to be a guy who's coming downhill ready to hit. He's going to be another leader in the back that guys are going to look up to. Josh is a playmaker. He's probably one of the most athletically gifted guys I have been around, especially in that safety room, so I'm super excited for him. I'm praying he stays healthy and everything goes well. God willing, he has a bright future this year."

Cornerback Cam Brown

On expectations for OSU's returning cornerbacks: "I think it's going be exciting. They’re all competing. It’s a lot of them, and they’re all competing. They all want to be great. And I feel like that's going to push them to the next level. Hopefully, they’ll put a lot of coverage on and become more confident."

On the quarterback battle between McCord and Brown: "It's going to be a great competition. They are two great quarterbacks. I have no doubt in my mind that one of them is going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country."

On cornerback Denzel Burke, who had a difficult sophomore season: "I’ve talked to a lot of coaches at Ohio State, and he has a different mindset coming into this year. He’s young, and he was put into the fire (as a freshman in 2021). He’s young, he had a great season and everything came right away. He had to just take off with it. But he's going to be a great player. His potential’s off the charts, and I think that he's finally realized that he can do what he can do."

Center Luke Wypler

On his thoughts about who will succeed him at center: "I think you have a bunch of guys that are going to be in there competing for the job. I know they brought a transfer in there to compete (Vic Cutler), and I think some of the young guys (could), too. Carson Hinzman is a young guy that could step up and take over. Jakob James too, who’s been behind me, I think he's a guy that once he's healthy (after missing spring practice), he's going to be the man for the job. So I'm really excited to see what they're able to do this spring."

On why James could be the guy: "I think he's shown what he's able to do the past few years, I think I've seen it first-hand practicing with him every day. He has the most experience in this game. Really, everything's about experience and reps and so for him, he has both of those under his belt. So as long as he can translate it onto the field when he gets healthy, he'll be great."

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