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Hankins Leaving Early For NFL

As expected, Ohio State junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins will enter the 2013 NFL Draft.

The Buckeyes must replace their entire starting defensive line.

Bucknuts reported last week that Hankins was definitely going to forego the final year of his collegiate career for the professional ranks and the 6-foot-3, 335-pounder made it official today.

He is widely projected as not only a first-round draft pick, but a top-15 overall selection.

With Hankins' absence, the Buckeyes must replace all four starters on their defensive line in 2013. The early favorites to start include sophomore ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, along with junior tackle Michael Bennett and sophomore tackle Tommy Schutt.

Here is the press release from OSU:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State all-Big Ten Conference defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins announced today he will forego his senior season of eligibility with the Buckeyes and make himself available for the 2013 NFL Draft and an opportunity to continue his career at the next level.

“I have decided, with the support of my family, to forego my senior season at Ohio State in order to enter the NFL Draft,” Hankins said Monday. “I will always be grateful for the family I have gained here at Ohio State.

“I want to thank coach Meyer, coach Vrabel and strength coach Marotti for bringing the best out of me as a football player and person, and for their constant support. I also want to thank coach Tressel and coach Heacock for recruiting me and giving me an opportunity to be a part of this great school and great program.”

Hankins, who is 20, appeared in 38 games the past three years and started every game in 2011 and 2012 – 25 total. He was fourth on the team in tackles in 2011 with 67 stops, including 11 tackles-for-loss (-24 yards), and this past season he ranked fifth with 55 tackles, including 4.0 TFLs (-22).

“I have enjoyed coaching and getting to know Johnathan Hankins over the past year,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “His hard work on and off the field has given him an opportunity to move on to the next level. The coaching staff and I wish him all the best.”

Hankins, who wraps up his Ohio State career with 138 tackles (58 solos; 80 assists), including 16.5 TFLs (-55 yards) and five quarterback sacks, was a member of four prestigious award/trophy watch lists entering the 2012 season – the Lombardi, Outland, Bednarik and Nagurski.

As a freshman in 2010, Hankins played in all 13 games and was named the team’s outstanding first-year player on defense. He was Ohio State’s Jack Stephenson Award winner as the team’s outstanding defensive lineman in 2011, and this past year he was named all-Big Ten by the league’s coaches after making things miserable for opposing offenses all season despite constant double teams. Hankins had a career-high 10 tackles twice this season: vs. California and Alabama-Birmingham.

“My three years at The Ohio State University have provided amazing experiences for me, and they are years I will never forget or take for granted,” Hankins said. “My plans are to return to finish my degree and to continue to be a part of this brotherhood of Buckeyes. I am so appreciative for the support I have received from my teammates, the coaching staff and administrators at Ohio State, and of course, my family.”

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