Ohio State draft decisions: Curtis Samuel leaving for NFL, Tyquan Lewis coming back

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USA TODAY

Ohio State draft decisions: Curtis Samuel leaving for NFL, Tyquan Lewis coming back

Two more Ohio State stars announced their NFL Draft decisions Monday.

H-back Curtis Samuel announced he'll leave for the draft, while defensive end Tyquan Lewis made it known he'll be back in scarlet and gray next season.

Samuel starred both catching the ball and running it this season. He was the team's leading receiver, catching 74 passes for 865 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He also carried the ball 97 times for 771 yards and eight touchdowns.

Samuel finished with 107 catches for 1,249 yards and nine touchdowns plus 1,286 rushing yards 15 rushing touchdowns.

"I arrived in Columbus in 2014 as a Brooklyn boy excited for the opportunity of playing college football on the biggest stage," Samuel wrote on Twitter. "The passion of Buckeye Nation has made my experience at The Ohio State University unforgettable. I have been privileged and honored to have amazing and incredibly talented teammates who are my friends for life.

"As I reflect on the past three years, I am very proud of our accomplishments. We beat TTUN (The Team Up North a.k.a. Michigan) all three seasons. We made it to the College Football Playoff this season and of course we were national champions in 2014.

"Coach (Urban) Meyer and I have the strongest bond, I am extremely thankful for everything he has done for me. He has helped develop me into both the player and the man I am today. Coach (Mickey) Maroti, you helped sculpt me both physically and mentally. I will always be thankful for the hard work you have put in with me.

"I would like to thank my family, which has been there to support me through every step of my journey. Their love and support gives me the strength to keep getting better every day. I thank God for the opportunities that he has blessed me with, to put me in the situation I am in today. I have decided to realize my dream and enter the 2017 NFL Draft."

Lewis was the team's leader with 10.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He recorded 29 total tackles. In his first three seasons at Ohio State, he's totaled 92 tackles with 26.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.

"It has been an honor to receive my bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University and to play football at the highest level for the best program in the nation and in front of the best fans," Lewis wrote on Twitter. "I can honestly say that I love my teammates, coaches and support staff. And no one is better at mentoring, leading and helping a young person develop on and off the field than coach Meyer, coach (Larry) Johnson and our strength coach, coach Mick. I am so proud of being a part of four Ohio State teams, including winning a national championship in 2014. But I am still hungry for more. And that's why I have made my decision to return to The Ohio State University next season to help the Buckeyes reach our goal of playing for championships and once again being the best team in the country. I can't wait to get started."

While Samuel's departure strips the Buckeyes of one of their only reliable receivers from the 2016 campaign, Lewis' return maintains a strong defensive line that should be even stronger in 2017.

Boston College transfer A.J. Turner coming to Northwestern

Boston College transfer A.J. Turner coming to Northwestern

A new face will be joining the Northwestern basketball program.

Boston College transfer forward A.J. Turner announced Wednesday on Twitter that he will be heading to join the Wildcats.

"I want to thank the coaches who expressed interest and took time to recruit me during this process," Turner wrote in a message posted on Twitter. "Boston College will always be a home to me. I wish my former teammates, coaching staff and entire athletic program the best of luck in the future. I also want to thank my family, friends and fans for their support during this time. After much reflection and prayer, I have decided to continue my education and collegiate career at Northwestern University with coach (Chris) Collins. I am extremely blessed to have this opportunity. I am very excited to begin my new journey in the Big Ten. Go Wildcats!"

Turner will have to sit out the upcoming 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer rules. But he brings plenty of major-conference experience to Collins' program.

Turner started 28 of Boston College's 32 games last season, averaging 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in 30.8 minutes a game.

Turner was ranked by Rivals as the No. 125 recruit in the Class of 2015.

Mark Smith picks Illini, giving Brad Underwood a huge recruiting win

Mark Smith picks Illini, giving Brad Underwood a huge recruiting win

Brad Underwood's tenure at Illinois hasn't gotten off to the smoothest start, but that will all be forgotten after a huge recruiting win Wednesday.

Mark Smith, the Land of Lincoln's Mr. Basketball out of Edwardsville High School, picked the Illini on Wednesday night, spurning a host of other suitors including Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Kentucky and Duke.

Smith is not just committed to Illinois but already signed to a National Letter of Intent, the school announced, making him an official member of the program's incoming freshman class.

For Underwood, landing Smith β€” ranked as the No. 52 prospect in the Class of 2017 β€” will not just cushion the blow of a pair of losses from earlier this spring, with Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett asking out of their National Letters of Intent. It will provide a spark of excitement across the fan base.

It's the kind of huge recruiting win that Underwood's predecessor John Groce could rarely claim. Only Tilmon and the rest of this year's recruiting class marked big-time success on the trail for Groce, and he was fired before he was able to coach any of those players.

Smith had a tremendous senior season, averaging 21.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 2.1 steals during a 30-win campaign. He scored 30 or more points in eight games and scored in double figures in all but one of his team's 32 contests.

Smith's commitment to Illinois restores much of the prestige to a halved recruiting class that once again claims a trio of four-star recruits, Smith joining Trent Frazier and Da'Monte Williams after the departures of Tilmon, a four-star recruit, and Pickett, a three-star recruit.

Underwood now can claim some serious momentum after a rocky beginning to his Illinois tenure. In addition to the departures of Tilmon and Pickett, the Illini lost out to Kansas on former Morgan Park star Charlie Moore, who transferred after one season at Cal. Illinois is reportedly still in the mix for Kansas transfer Carlton Bragg Jr.

Underwood also adds Smith to what was a roster short on scholarship players, particularly after the decisions of Tilmon and Pickett. Smith, along with Frazier and Williams, join returning players D.J. Williams, Kipper Nichols, Te'Jon Lucas, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Leron Black, Aaron Jordan and Michael Finke for Underwood's first season in Champaign.