Jeff Okudah, an immensely talented cornerback who was named a finalist for the 2019 Thorpe Award, is turning pro.
Okudah just announced that he will forego his final season of eligibility and instead enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
Free Jefe. Jeremiah 29:11. pic.twitter.com/i9DSjUmrPa
— Jeff Okudah (@jokudah) January 1, 2020
Most projections have Okudah slotted to go somewhere in the top half of the first round, including some who think he’ll be a top-5 pick overall.
He came to Ohio State rated as the top corner in the class of 2o17, and one the top-10 players in the entire nation.
He lived up to every bit of that billing as a Buckeye.
Okudah finished his junior season with three interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles – not including the one that set up a scoop-and-score for Jordan Fuller in the Fiesta Bowl that was later overturned.
He was consistently matched up with opponents’ top receivers all season and rarely gave up big plays.
Okudah first burst onto the scene in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. Forced into action as a true freshman because Denzel Ward sat the game out, he was matched up against Sam Darnold and the explosive USC passing attack.
Okudah played well that night, and quickly earned a starting role in 2018.
He was a reliable performer on a largely unreliable unit that season, and then turned into a spectacular one on the Buckeyes’ outstanding 2019 defense.
Okudah had two interceptions in the primetime win at Nebraska, including one that he caught while lying flat on his back.
With Okudah gone, and Shaun Wade’s status still up in the air, the Buckeyes are dealing with a lot of uncertainty in the defensive backfield for 2020.
Seniors Damon Arnette and Jordan Fuller are already gone. With Okudah now turning pro, and Wade still deciding, the Buckeyes could lose their entire defensive backfield.
Senior Amir Riep and juniors Cameron Brown, Sevyn Banks, and Josh Proctor are expected to be the next guys up, but Okudah’s departure leaves some very big shoes to fill.