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Ohio State's Hartline decides to turn pro

1/14/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Ohio State junior wide receiver Brian Hartline announced today that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Hartline is the second Ohio State player to turn pro early, joining running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. He ranked second on the team in touchdown catches (4) and tied for second in receptions (21) this fall.

"I am thrilled to declare my eligibility for the National Football League draft," Hartline said in a statement. "Everyone involved within The Ohio State University football program has done a tremendous job for me. I want to thank all of them, particularly coach [Jim] Tressel, for helping me to succeed as both a student and an athlete during my time here. I would especially like to thank the media and the fans of Ohio for being great to me and to my family throughout my career.

"I have had an outstanding experience at OSU and am thankful for the support I continue to receive. I now look forward to testing myself against the top competitors in the National Football League. "

Hartline didn't improve his draft stock this season, as Ohio State ranked 105th nationally in pass offense (150.2 ypg) and his receptions total dropped significantly. But his decision to turn pro isn't a huge surprise, namely because Hartline seemed to feel part of the Buckeyes' outgoing senior class.

He redshirted in 2005 but went through school with players like fellow wideout Brian Robiskie and quarterback Todd Boeckman. It's not to say Hartline wouldn't have had a big 2009 season alongside Terrelle Pryor, but many of his peers would no longer be on the roster.

Hartline's departure accelerates Ohio State's youth movement on the depth chart.

This will definitely be Pryor's team in 2009, and you can expect Pryor's peers like running back Dan Herron and wide receivers DeVier Posey and Lamaar Thomas to take on enhanced roles.