COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State football’s list of NFL scouting combine invitees has dwindled somewhat in recent years compared to the Buckeyes’ all-time highs.

Expect that to change – perhaps significantly – next year.

It doesn’t take long to come up with a list of 18 players who could earn invites to the annual Scouting Showcase. Some of them will be early entry invites, including some third-year players. But these are also players who came to OSU as great prospects on a three-year career path to the pros.

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LSU’s record number of invites for 2020 is believed to be 16, following their undefeated national championship season. Ohio State sent 14 players in both 2021 and 2016.

A number at least equal to the previous high is definitely within reach given this list of candidates:

• Kyle McCord: Only had one year as a starter. But if he wins the job and becomes a Heisman Trophy contender, like his predecessors did under Ryan Day, turning pro might be the smartest choice.

• Marvin Harrison Jr.: Could be #1 overall in the 2023 draft if eligible. No exaggeration.

• Emeka Egbuka: An invitation is almost guaranteed if he comes out after 3rd grade.

• Julian Fleming: Has been at this for a fourth year and will look like a pro as he builds on 2022 breakthrough.

• TreVeyon Henderson: Looked like a future pro when he was a freshman and may be again when he’s healthy.

• Miyan Williams: What if he takes his 2022 success and stays healthy all season?

• Cade Stover: Almost certainly got invited to Indianapolis last week if he hadn’t decided to return for a fifth season.

• Donovan Jackson: His athleticism should hold up very well against other offensive linemen.

• JT Tuimoloau: A dynamic, all-around athlete who can take Penn State performance and replicate it in the workouts and drills.

• Jack Sawyer: Tests all of the athletic boxes teams seek in a pro edge rusher.

• Mike Hall Jr. If he extrapolates his early performances over a full season in 2022, he’ll likely be an All-American.

• Tyleik Williams: We know he can rush the passer, but as he rounds his game he becomes a better pro.

• Ty Hamilton: Earned a starting role last year and could be an Opening Day starter in his fourth season.

• Tommy Eichenberg: His brother Liam was a 2021 second-round pick. Can the younger brother top that?

• Steele Chambers: Came back for another season to hone his linebacker-specific skills.

• Denzel Burke: The real breakthrough hasn’t happened yet, but this freshman season indicated that it could happen anytime.

• Jordan Hancock: The coaching staff was excited to see what he could do before his preseason hamstring injury. A possible Marshon Lattimore-like career?

• Lathan Ransom: Has already shown he’s a guy who can’t be counted and last year was a huge growth experience.

Note that this list doesn’t include security guard Matt Jones, security guards Ja’Had Carter and Josh Proctor, or punter Jesse Mirco. Chip Trayanum would also be a training favorite in a combine environment, although he may one day have to settle for a monster-pro tag like another former Buckeye running back, Master Teague.

A large Ohio state media contingent has typically traveled to Indianapolis each year for the combine thanks to its proximity and the abundance and status of the buckeyes involved. Next year we could be particularly busy.

This list also means that beyond the obvious starting competitions, there will be important depth map battles. Who will start building traction to intervene after this potential mass exodus in 2024?

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