Columbus, Ohio — Thursday night was good for Ohio State, not only for five of its former players who soon will be rich, but also for its coaches who are trying to sell the program to elite recruits.
Ohio State tied a previous school record with a quintet of players selected in the first round. The Buckeyes also had five players chosen in the opening round of the 2006 draft. Miami has the record with six No. 1 picks in 2004.
Defensive end Joey Bosa was the No. 3 overall pick Thursday in Chicago, going to the San Diego Chargers. Running back Ezekiel Elliott went No. 4 to the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Eli Apple No. 10 to the New York Giants, offensive tackle Taylor Decker No. 16 to the Detroit Lions and linebacker Darron Lee No. 20 to the New York Jets.
Forbes estimated that initial earnings for the five Buckeyes first-rounders could be $87 million.
All but Decker were part of coach Urban Meyer’s 2013 recruiting class that would help win the first College Football Playoff national championship after the 2014 season. Meyer knows how much it speaks to the respect of the program and how valuable it is for recruits to watch those marquee players get their names called in the first round.
The message: Come to Ohio State and we’ll get you to the NFL.
“We’re going to track guys (on social media), and absolutely we’re going to use that for recruiting,” Meyer said before the draft. He was seen often during the ESPN broadcast Thursday high-fiving and congratulating his players after they were picked.
“That’s been a major selling point about this program,” Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith said.
“If you choose to come to Ohio State and you buy into the culture and the program as it is presented here … you’re going to be in a position to do two things: win championships and play at a very high level at the next level,” said Kerry Coombs, who coaches cornerbacks and special teams. “I think we have clear evidence of that. It’s not philosophy or theory, it’s testimony.”
An additional eight to 10 Buckeyes could be taken in the next rounds, including quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller and quarterback Cardale Jones. A school-record nine OSU players, including Jones and Bosa, left early after last season to enter the draft.
“This is why we came to Ohio State, to play at the next level,” said Bosa, the highest Buckeye pick since the Rams selected offensive tackle Orlando Pace first overall in 1997.
Pace, who played 13 seasons in the NFL, will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.