NEWS

Laurinaitis passes up NFL, will play senior season at OSU

Todd Porter

Next season, Ohio State will have a two-time All-American and a mountain of a left tackle on the offensive line.

Butkus Award winning linebacker James Laurinaitis announced Monday he would pass up millions in the NFL to play his senior season at Ohio State. A day earlier, Alex Boone decided to stay for his senior season.

But the Buckeyes might be losing one soon. Ohio State said it was likely that backup quarterback Rob Schoenhoft, who became a scout team tight end for bowl practices, would transfer. Schoenhoft will probably head to a Division I-AA or Division II program.

Laurinaitis and Boone followed the lead of cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, another junior who could’ve been a first-round pick, to stay at Ohio State. All three players said there were some things money couldn’t buy, like finality and a senior season.

Coincidentally, those were the same words Kirk Barton said a year ago. The fifth-year senior decided to stay at Ohio State last year and he was a co-captain this past season.

“I would never take credit for a guy coming back,” Barton said. “That’s their decision. A top 15 pick (Laurinaitis) coming back is obviously because he loves college football. That’s a lot of money to turn down. 

“Maybe losing the national title game has more to do with it than me staying last year. ... You know this is your last game or your last bowl game.”

Laurinaitis, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, led OSU’s defense with 121 tackles.

“There are a lot of things money can’t buy, and some of those things are the experiences of a senior season,” Laurinaitis said. “Going through those things with my teammates next year is what I look forward to the most.

“I know I can still improve as a player and I know there is still much for me and for the Buckeyes to accomplish. My love for this university, my love for the people of the state of Ohio, and my love for teammates and friends is so great, I want to stay a Buckeye for another season. You only get to do this once, so I want to take full advantage.”

Boone remaining at left tackle is as important on the offensive side of the ball. Ohio State’s recruiting class, shaping up as a top five in the country, has some of the best high school linemen in it with Michael Brewster, J.B. Shugarts and Mike Adams verbally committed.

Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail: todd.porter@cantonrep.com