Buckeyes standouts Ginn, Pittman going pro

Updated: January 16, 2007, 3:00 AM ET
Associated Press

AKRON, Ohio -- Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State's game-breaking returner and receiver, and tailback Antonio Pittman said Monday they will leave the Buckeyes a year early to enter the NFL draft.

Antonio Pittman
Pittman
Ted Ginn Jr.
Ginn Jr.

Ginn and Pittman will join receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who announced last week that he would give up his final season of eligibility to turn pro.

"It was a hard, tough decision," Ginn said in a phone interview. "It was just a great time for me to go."

Ted Ginn Sr. said the family struggled through the weekend with mixed emotions about missing Ginn's senior season, in the end deciding the NFL was the best financial decision.

"Not being able to see your son come out of that tunnel in the Ohio State atmosphere, that's major for us," said Ginn's father, who was his coach at Glenville High School in Cleveland. "He didn't feel like he had completed the things he should have completed at Ohio State."

Ginn sprained his ankle while celebrating after he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the Buckeyes' 41-14 loss to Florida in the BCS national championship.

But Ginn's dazzling speed is expected to make him a first-round pick, even though he's likely to miss the Feb. 21-27 scouting combine because his left foot will be in a boot for three to five weeks.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel called Ginn, Pittman and Gonzalez "great playmakers and teammates" and said any NFL team would be lucky to have them.

"We are fortunate at Ohio State to attract elite student athletes. With that excellence comes opportunities. We know Ted Ginn Jr., Antonio Pittman and Anthony Gonzalez will be very successful at the next level and that they will end up being graduates of Ohio State, because all three have assured us that graduation is one of their goals," Tressel said in a statement.

Pittman announced his decision Monday at Buchtel High School in Akron.

Flanked by players from the high school's football team, he called playing in the NFL and possibly being a first-round draft pick a lifelong dream.

Losing Ginn, Pittman and Gonzalez leaves Ohio State without three of its top offensive weapons. The Buckeyes also are losing Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith to graduation.

"We had a great year -- one loss don't take away from a great year," Pittman said. "This is a decision that's going to affect my family, not just my family here, but my family at Ohio State."

Earlier, Pittman said he would play his senior year and attempt to bring the Heisman back to Buchtel. He said providing for his 5-month-old daughter was one of his motivations for turning pro.

"Coming from around here, this neighborhood, it's not easy growing up," he said. "It'd be great to get her out of here."

Ginn teamed with Smith, his former Glenville teammate, to turn the Buckeyes into one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. Yet he was expected by many to star on defense when he was recruited. Ginn was USA Today's national high school defensive player of the year in 2003.

"I always wanted to play for the Browns if possible, but if not, just go where I can go," Ginn said Monday.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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