RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
Ohio State All-American Curtis Samuel is giving up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.
Samuel posted a goodbye message on Twitter on Monday.
“The passion of Buckeye Nation has made my experience at The Ohio State University unforgettable,” Samuel wrote. “I have been honored to have amazing and incredibly talented teammates who are my friends for life.”
Samuel’s high school coach, Danny Landberg of Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, New York , told The Associated Press that Samuel was going back and forth on whether to return for his senior season, but decided this weekend to leave. Landberg said Samuel received a second-round grade from the NFL’s college advisory committee.
“I wish he had stayed and gotten his degree and been a Heisman Trophy candidate next season, but every time I came up with a good reason to stay he had a well-thought-out reason to leave,” Landburg said by phone. “He has really matured. I’m really proud of the way he’s grown.”
The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Samuel was the Buckeyes’ best offensive player in 2016. Playing a hybrid receiver-running back position, the junior had 1,636 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. He was the only player in the country to have at least 700 yards rushing (771) and 800 receiving (865). He was a first-team All-America all-purpose player.
He also scored the winning touchdown on a 15-yard sweep in double overtime to beat Michigan 30-27.
Landberg said Samuel was concerned about the wear and tear on his body from another season of college football.
Samuel is the fifth Ohio State player to declare for early entry, joining All-America safety Malik Hooker, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, receiver Noah Brown and cornerback Gareon Conley.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett, a fifth-year senior, has said will be back for another season at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes (11-2) lost to Clemson 31-0 in the College Football Playoff semifinals last week.
Ohio State Urban Meyer is also making staff changes on offense, having let go of quarterback coach Tim Beck. Meyer already has added San Francisco 49ers assistant Ryan Day as quarterbacks coach, and former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson reportedly could become Ohio State’s next offensive coordinator.
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