Thursday, January 16, 2003

OSU stars won't jump to NFL


Jenkins, Smith decide to return for senior seasons

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State split end Michael Jenkins, who made several clutch catches for the Buckeyes this season, and defensive tackle Will Smith said Wednesday that they will return for their senior seasons.

The juniors could have given up their final year of eligibility and made themselves available for the NFL draft.

"I gave a little thought about leaving, but I never seriously considered it," said Jenkins, who led the Buckeyes with 61 receptions, 1,076 yards receiving and six touchdown catches in 14 games.

He teamed with quarterback Craig Krenzel for two of biggest plays in Ohio State's national championship run.

Jenkins caught the game-winning 37-yard TD pass on fourth-and-1 with a 1:36 remaining against Purdue on Nov. 9, and prolonged the first overtime in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3 with a 17-yard reception on fourth-and-14.

The Buckeyes eventually scored the tying touchdown on Krenzel's sneak, and won their first national championship since the 1969 Rose Bowl by preventing Miami from scoring in the second OT.

Smith, who joined Jenkins as a second-team All-Big Ten performer this season, set the tone for Ohio State's defense in the Fiesta Bowl by sacking Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey on the Hurricanes' first play.

"I want to graduate next year and play for the chance to win another national championship," said Smith, who had 4 1/2 sacks and 51 tackles in the regular season.

"My grandmother always emphasized graduating from college and while I could have done that had I chose to leave early, I think it would be great to accomplish that in four years and put that part of my life behind me."

Another Ohio State junior, defensive end Darrion Scott, announced last week that he would return for his senior season.




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