Buckeyes CB Lattimore will enter NFL draft

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the second year in a row, Ohio State will have to replace three starters in the secondary who are leaving early for the NFL draft. And the latest loss for the Buckeyes puts one of the most-touted cornerbacks in the country in play for a team at the next level.

Redshirt sophomore Marshon Lattimore announced his decision on Twitter on Wednesday, joining fellow Ohio State defensive backs Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley to forgo eligibility and turn pro.

Lattimore is the No. 1-rated draft-eligible cornerback on ESPN Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest top prospects list. He is also listed by ESPN’s Todd McShay as the No. 7 overall prospect in the NFL draft.

Lattimore had two seasons potentially available to him with the Buckeyes after struggling with hamstring injuries early in his career before finally staying healthy and making the most of his only year in the starting lineup.

Lattimore finished the season with four interceptions, 13 passes defended and a touchdown.

“Being a kid from the inner city motivated me to become the best player I could be,” Lattimore posted on social media. “It also helped me deal with the adversity and challenges I’ve dealt with during my time at Ohio State because I’ve been going through rough times all of my life. … I have a chance to compete at the highest level, and in the midst, change my family’s lives as well as mine also.

“With that being said, I’ve decided to enter the 2017 NFL draft.”

There will obviously be some familiar faces there with Lattimore. Along with his teammates in the secondary, the Buckeyes have had three other players declare for the draft since the season ended in the College Football Playoff.

Last year, Ohio State lost safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell along with cornerback Eli Apple early to the draft. But the Buckeyes didn’t miss a beat thanks in large part to the emergence of Lattimore and Hooker, first-year starters who capitalized on the opportunity to fill those big shoes.

Now the Buckeyes will have to do it all over again with Lattimore officially opening up a third spot by confirming his plans to head to the NFL.

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