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Laurinaitis to return for one more season at OSU!


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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Two-time All-America linebacker James Laurinaitis said Monday he will stay at Ohio State for his senior year.

"After a long thought process and strategic evaluation of the pros and cons of this decision with my close family and friends, I've decided to stay at Ohio State," Laurinaitis said in a statement issued by the school.

Laurinaitis, a 6-foot-3, 244-pounder from Hamel, Minn., won the 2007 Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and the 2006 Nagurski Award as the top defensive player in college football.

The Big Ten defensive player of the year this past season, he set a BCS championship game record with 18 tackles against LSU in the Buckeyes' 38-24 loss, their second in a row in the title game.

Laurinaitis, the son of WWE professional wrestler Animal from the Legion of Doom, led the Buckeyes with 121 tackles for the season.

Most NFL mock drafts have pegged Laurinaitis as a high first-round draft pick. During Ohio State's preparations for the game with LSU he had batted away questions about what he would do next season.

"I know I can still improve as a player, and I know there is still much more to me and for the Buckeyes to accomplish," he said. "I want stay a Buckeye for another season. You only get to do this once, so I want to take full advantage. There are a lot of things that money can't buy, and some of those things are the experiences of a senior season."

Coach Jim Tressel disclosed in December that he had urged 13 juniors to file the paperwork with the NFL to receive scouting evaluations to determine what round the players might be taken in this spring's draft.

So far, only second-team All-American defensive end Vernon Gholston has said he will give up his senior year to make himself eligible for the draft. The deadline for third-year players to declare their intentions is Tuesday.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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I don't follow too much of the pre-draft hype until about March, but I have to wonder how this affects the draft order now that a projected top 10 pick is out of the draft pool.

On one hand you want as many top defensive picks commited to the draft as it helps the Bengals drafting at #9. On the other hand, the less talent available in the 1st round, the more valuable the #9 pick becomes to teams that may want to trade up with the Bengals to get their pick.

Will there be an immediate impact player available at #9? If not, you have to want the Bengals to explore the possibility of trading down seeing how they need help at several positions on defense and offense.

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The Buckeyes were not supposed to be as good as they were this year. next year is going to be sweet. I'm glad to see him stay and get his degree it definatly shows character. He'll be fine come next years' draft.

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