Ohio State star offensive lineman Wyatt Davis is declaring for the NFL draft, he told Yahoo Sports in a phone interview. Davis is a 6-foot-4, 315-pound guard who projects as a potential first-round pick.
Davis, a redshirt junior, returned to Ohio State this year for a fourth season for the chance to play for a national title. As the chances of Ohio State competing for a title this fall appeared to dim in the wake of the Big Ten’s postponement, Davis said he decided to announce he’ll be declaring for the NFL draft.
“My family and I were waiting to hear any good news that there would be a possibility to play in the fall,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “As the weeks went on, after the initial cancellation, the news didn’t seem in favor that we would have an opportunity to play for a national championship if there was a season. At this point, my family and I made the decision that it would be my best decision to take the next step.”
Davis is the first player from Ohio State’s team to opt out of the season and declare for the NFL draft. Buckeyes coach Ryan Day has remained a vocal advocate for the Big Ten playing as soon as possible this fall. He mentioned mid-October in a statement on Thursday.
Davis made it clear that he wanted to play this season with his teammates.
“It’s really heartbreaking,” he said, noting he could have declared after the 2019 season. “I believe that we would have won the national championship this year. It’s really unfortunate. I feel for all those guys, especially the younger players going into this year having that taken away from them. It’s tough, but we are in a pandemic. It’s just really unfortunate. We had something really special.”
Davis projects as one of the top guard prospects in the draft, and his draft slot likely depends on the premium that teams put on guards. One NFL scout told Yahoo Sports that Davis is a better guard prospect than Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz, who went No. 24 overall last year. But the scout noted Davis hasn’t flashed Ruiz’s positional flexibility.
The scout compared Davis to former Stanford star David DeCastro and former Ohio State star Pat Elflein, two linchpin NFL guards with “strong, physical and athletic” as their defining traits. Another scout mentioned Davis’ ideal fit in a downhill gap scheme. “He has really good balance, and he’s really strong,” one scout said. “Basically, everything you want out of a guard, he can do.”
Davis said he appreciated the effort that Ohio State coach Ryan Day has put forth in an attempt to find a way for Ohio State to play. He said the program has been “enhanced” after Urban Meyer handed it off to Day and that culture manifested itself during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone was truly bought in,” Davis said. “Guys were taking the initiative to not be out in public and to truly follow protocols. Everyone wanted to play. Coach Day and [athletic director] Gene Smith were both fighting extremely hard and they still are. Coach Day cares for us, man. He wants nothing but the best for us.”
Davis said he had an emotional conversation with Day on Thursday and said Day was “completely understanding” and “in full support” of whatever decision Davis made.
Davis will bring a proud football lineage to the NFL. His late grandfather, Willie Davis, is a Hall of Fame defensive end who played on the Green Bay Packers’ first two Super Bowl championship teams as well as for the Cleveland Browns. His father, Duane Davis, played at Missouri and is an actor best known in football circles for his role playing Alvin Mack in the 1993 film, “The Program.”
“When I was a young kid, hearing all the stories about my grandfather, and now having the opportunity to reach that level is crazy to me,” Wyatt Davis said. “There’s a lot of hard work and dedication that gets it to this point. I’m really excited for what my future holds. I hope in that process, I’m making my grandad proud.”
Davis’ impressive pedigree includes playing for two of the country’s most prolific programs: St. John Bosco High School in Southern California and Ohio State.
Davis complimented Bosco coach Jason Negro for preparing him for college, as Bosco has turned into one of the most prominent national high school programs. “Bosco is like a mini-college,” Davis said. “The way we approached practice when I was there, the coaches held everyone to a certain standard to being great and not settling for anything less.”
At Ohio State, Davis learned under veteran line coach Greg Studrawa, who he said helped completely transform him as a player. “His ability to teach and push you toward your goals, I’m forever grateful,” Davis said. “He’s made me the player I am today.”
Davis also wanted to give “a special thank you” to veteran strength coach Mickey Marotti, who has long been regarded as the backbone of the Buckeyes program. “He’s taught me life lessons,” Davis said. “I’ll always be grateful. He taught me how to work hard. I thought I knew how to work hard, but I didn’t until I met Coach Mick.”
Davis told Yahoo Sports he’s going to focus on technical development in the upcoming months before locking in on specific training for the NFL combine.
“My biggest strength would be getting movement off the ball and playing with a nasty edge,” Davis said. “I do believe I’m the best guard in this draft and my film will back me up.”
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