Measuring Impact of Olave, Ruckert, Munford Returning to Columbus

Ohio State got three unexpected pieces of good news on Monday when their draft-eligible star receiver, starting left tackle and starting tight end all said they're returning in 2021.
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Ohio State fans spent their Monday hoping they wouldn't lose too many of their beloved players to the NFL Draft, knowing that inevitably a good number of them would chose to leave the Scarlet and Gray pursue their NFL dreams.

But as it turned out, while most of the players that were expected to turn pro declared they were entering the draft, a few key players are unexpectedly coming back in 2021.

Chris Olave, Thayer Munford, Jeremy Ruckert and Tyreke Smith all announced they are coming back to Columbus for one more run at a national title (Munford made his announcement on Saturday, the others did so Monday).

We're going to focus on the offensive perspective here, because the obvious question is who will play quarterback next year? C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and incoming freshman Kyle McCord were all highly recruited, but none of them have thrown a collegiate pass.

Chris Olave's return signaled strongly that he believes coming back to the program for one more season is the best thing for him, and I don't believe he would do that unless he really liked the makeup of the quarterback room. That's really saying something from a guy that is projected to be a first or second round pick.

It also means that extremely talented wide receivers room is bringing everyone back next year, unless there are players who decide to transfer. Already one of the deepest rooms in the country, the Buckeye wide outs are going to be a scary proposition next year on a weekly basis.

Freshmen stars Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming, along with sophomore Jameson Williams, will all be back next season. Plus, Kamryn Babb will enter his fourth year with the team, Gee Scott Jr. is a rising sophomore and very talented, and the incoming freshmen class of Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jayden Ballard is arguably the best incoming freshmen class in the country.

The talent in this room is just silly ... there are more five-star players than three-star ones - and Olave is one of the three-star guys!

Meanwhile the offensive line brought three starters back for this season and all three were projected to be playing their final campaigns for the Scarlet and Gray. But while Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers predictably turned pro, Thayer Munford is coming back next year. 

The importance of that decision really can't be understated.

Munford had previously accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but he's decided to stay in school and finish his degree. It means that whoever the new quarterback is has a multi-year starter at left tackle, coming off the best season of his career.

Munford and right tackle Nick Petit-Frere are going to provide an excellent foundation on the line. With Harry Miller also returning as a starter up front (although whether he plays guard or center may still be up in the air), the new Buckeye quarterback is going to be in great shape.

On top of that, Jeremy Ruckert returning to Ohio State deepens the passing game weapons, as he will absolutely be considered among the best tight ends in college football next fall. Urban Meyer called Ruckert the best tight end he'd ever recruited and Ruckert has lived up to that billing. He'll be the veteran in that room next year.

Even thought Trey Sermon is turning pro, Ohio State's running back room will back-fill with No. 1 nationally rated running back TreVeyon Henderson and SI All-American running back Evan Pryor.

The Buckeyes are primed for another monster offensive season in 2021 and should absolutely have their sights on winning a national championship.


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