Tyreke Smith isn’t going anywhere.
The Ohio State defensive end confirmed in a social media announcement Monday that he will be back with the Buckeyes for the 2021 season rather than entering the NFL draft.
All glory to God…Unfinished business pic.twitter.com/nNLH7fM4He
— Tyreke Smith (@T_23_baller) January 19, 2021
Though there was some speculation that Smith could make the jump to the NFL, it would have been a questionable move after he recorded just two sacks in 2020. While Smith arrived at Ohio State as a near-five-star recruit and has the physical tools to play defensive end in the league, he still hasn’t emerged as a consistent impact player for the Buckeyes and likely would have been a Day 3 draft choice.
By returning to Ohio State for his senior season, though, Smith will have the opportunity to continue developing under the tutelage of Larry Johnson and perhaps finally have his long-awaited breakout season in 2021. He’ll be expected to lead the Buckeyes at the defensive end position following the departure of Jonathon Cooper.
With Smith’s decision to stay at Ohio State, the Buckeyes are set to return four of their five defensive ends who saw regular playing time this past season, also including Zach Harrison, Tyler Friday and Javontae Jean-Baptiste. While they’ll be looking for each of those defensive ends to take a step forward and make more impact plays in 2021, they’ll be loaded with depth at the position, with Cormontae Hamilton, Noah Potter, Darrion Henry-Young and Jacolbe Cowan also returning and five-star recruit Jack Sawyer set to arrive as a potential immediate-impact freshman.