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Urban Meyer adjusting to nine underclassmen leaving OSU

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State anticipated a large number of early entrants to the NFL draft, but the final total was even higher than Urban Meyer envisioned.

The Buckeyes coach conceded he was surprised by a few decisions among the nine nonseniors forgoing their remaining eligibility and said he anticipated the number would be around "sixish" after the season ended.

"Nine is a lot," Meyer said Thursday. "Nine's a lot. The four or five [is more manageable]. One year at Florida we had 12 players send in their paperwork, and you're like, 'My goodness.' I mean, it's what we do when you recruit like that.

"I've been in scenarios where you don't have a lot of conversations about the NFL because you don't have that caliber of players. This was over the top."

Meyer thanked all of the leaving players for the way they handled the process as Ohio State turns its attention to recruiting and trying to develop its remaining roster heading into the coach's fifth season with the program.

With as many as five projected first-round selections among the group leaving Ohio State early, Meyer and his coaching staff had already braced for the exodus of talent facing the program this offseason.

A handful of players had made their decisions known before the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl win last week against Notre Dame, including defensive end and potential No. 1 overall pick Joey Bosa, running back Ezekiel Elliott and backup quarterback Cardale Jones.

But a few somewhat surprising Buckeyes joined the ranks this week, though Meyer declined to single out anybody from a list that now includes safeties Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell, cornerback Eli Apple, linebacker Darron Lee and wide receivers Jalin Marshall and Michael Thomas.

"A couple, yeah, but I'm not going to get into names," Meyer said. "But then I thought about somebody like Tyvis; he was a four-year guy, he's been a captain, he's been a national champion, and he's got his degree, and his dream was to play [in the NFL].

"I'm a fan of great players, and a bunch of those guys are going to play for a while. They decided to chase their dreams, and everyone was so professional about how they did this."