When the deadline for underclassmen to decide on the NFL draft came and went Monday, there was no announcement made by junior cornerback Kendall Sheffield.
Despite the silence, there was overwhelming clue pointing to Sheffield bypassing his senior season at Ohio State in 2019.
He was listed in an Instagram post by EXOS Sports among the athletes in its program training for the NFL scouting combine.
A quiet personality, Sheffield never participated in media availability over two years at OSU. For him to make no kind of announcement fits that track record.
On the field, he had mixed results. The 6-0, 193-pounder recorded 74 tackles (four for loss), two interceptions, 15 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 28 games.
Sheffield split time with Damon Arnette and Denzel Ward among the Buckeyes’ three-man rotation in 2017, his first after he transferred from Brenham (Texas) Blinn College as a four-star recruit — the 247Sports composite‘s No. 3 overall prospect, No. 1 cornerback and No. 2 player in the Lone Star State for the 2017 junior college class.
Prior to JUCO, Sheffield signed with Alabama as a five-star recruit in the 2015 class. Described by Texas scout/recruiting analyst Greg Powers as a “blistering fast” defensive back with 4.3-second speed in the 40-yard dash out of Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall, Sheffield went to the 2016 Under Armour All-America Game as the 247Sports composite’s No. 20 overall prospect, No. 4 cornerback and No. 3 player in the Lone Star State.
Next to Arnette and Ward, Sheffield compiled 40 tackles (two for loss) and one forced fumble and one fumble recovery across 14 games in 2017. He entered 2018 as the starter opposite of Arnette, recording his first two career interceptions in addition to 34 tackles (two for loss) and one forced fumble, but Sheffield never took the next step.
Arnette announced his return to Columbus last Friday as he holds off the NFL for one more year, meaning Sheffield’s apparent departure wraps the anticipated decisions by draft-eligible players on OSU’s roster ahead of its 2019 season. Ohio State saw junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, junior running back Mike Weber, sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Jordan declare while junior linebacker Malik Harrison, junior safety Jordan Fuller, junior H-back K.J. Hill and Arnette decided to come back.
Sheffield’s expected jump to the NFL leaves the Buckeyes with Arnette, Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade, Sevyn Banks, Tyreke Johnson, Marcus Williamson and Cameron Brown among the scholarship cornerbacks. Alex Badine, Lloyd McFarquhar and Xavier Johnson round out the position group’s walk-ons.
OSU’s 2019 recruiting class inked 15 letters of intent during the Dec. 19-21 early signing period, none of which were cornerbacks. While few spots remain before the Feb. 6 National Signing Day, Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic four-star safety Ronnie Hickman and Potomac (Md.) Bullis School three-star safety Bryson Shaw are Ohio State’s only incoming defensive backs as of now.