Decision time is typically made during the period between the end of the regular season and bowl games.
For Buckeyes defensive tackle Tyleik Williams, his decision will be about whether he’ll enter the 2024 NFL Draft in his first year of eligibility after three seasons at Ohio State.
While he hasn’t received much feedback from the coaching staff yet on his NFL prospects following his regular season performance, Williams said he will be “thinking about that during this month and after the (Cotton Bowl) game.” He said he isn’t leaning one way or another.
“I think I know where I’m at right now,” Williams said. “But still another game to show more. But I just got to talk to my family, coaches, see what can happen next year and that’ll ultimately factor my decision.”
No. 7 Ohio State will play No. 9 Missouri in Dallas during the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29, and the Buckeyes are faced with a number of decisions regarding which players will decide to play in the bowl game or opt out to preserve their NFL Draft prospects.
Williams burst onto the Buckeyes scene as a true freshman in 2021. He racked up five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss in addition to 16 tackles.
He followed that breakout freshman season by playing in 25 more games during his sophomore and junior campaigns. Williams recorded a career-high 10 tackles for loss last season and 50 tackles.
Among the factors that will sway his decision to return to Ohio State, Williams looked at several influences.
“How many of my brothers are coming back, what can we do next year, who are we bringing in, things like that,” Williams said.
Williams’ 2021 recruiting class hasn’t fulfilled expectations when first arriving on campus several years ago.
Ohio State hasn’t won a Big Ten Championship nor beaten Michigan since the class of 2021 stepped foot in Columbus. Williams said “going into next year is motivation” to prepare well for Missouri during bowl practice, and it could influence his decision to return to Ohio State.
Arriving in Columbus as a four-star recruit from Manassas, Virginia, Williams grew into a successful defensive tackle at Ohio State.
At 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds, Williams provides a stout interior option to stop the run and terrorize the quarterback. That’s a combination that could intrigue NFL teams, and those are areas where Williams has seen himself grow.
“I think I’ve become more mature and just every aspect of the game I think I’ve improved,” Williams said. “Of course, there’s more to improve on but I think I made a big leap this year.”
Williams didn’t necessarily expect to be in a position where after three seasons at Ohio State that he could enter the NFL Draft and launch his professional football career.
But Williams has time on his hands. It’s an important decision for any football player, and Williams certainly has the ability to decide either to enter the NFL or remain at Ohio State.
“It came on me quick so I wasn’t expecting it but when you play good, good opportunities arise,” Williams said. “But only having one good year, there’s definitely motivation to come back, not winning anything with my class. So there’s a lot to think about but right now I’m just focusing on Missouri.”