Pat Elflein's return major for Buckeyes
Perhaps more underrated than any of the losses Ohio State expected to experience this offseason was at offensive line. Having two All-American-caliber linemen leave for the NFL would be tough to replace.
Lucky for the Buckeyes, they won’t have to worry about that.
Pat Elflein announced on Friday night that he’ll be returning to Columbus for his fifth year and delaying his NFL aspirations.
With ALL focus on ND. I have decided to return for my last year & help this team achieve our goals.Thanks for the support #BuckeyeNation
— Patrick Elflein (@elflein65) December 18, 2015
The Buckeye guard has been at that role since he took the job at the end of his redshirt freshman season. The two-time first-team All-B1G selection could’ve easily been drafted in the first two rounds. Instead, he’ll return as a leader of the Buckeye offense.
Without Taylor Decker, Ohio State will need a new alpha dog up front. Elflein can be that guy. Even better, he can take over the void at center left by Jacoby Boren.
For a team that will have a new face at tailback and will have three new starters on the offensive line, the Buckeyes will boast the top returning lineman in the B1G. He might even be the top returning offensive lineman in America.
For Urban Meyer’s system to work, it has to start up front. That much was obvious when OSU steamrolled its way to a national title. Elflein will likely be one of the few Buckeyes on the 2016 roster that played a significant part in that.
RELATED: Should they stay or should they go?
His return will also mean he’ll be chasing a bit of history, as well. He has a chance to become just the 20th Ohio State player ever to earn first-team All-B1G three times. He’ll likely be a consensus preseason All-American.
But as Elflein said, he isn’t worried individual accolades. If he was, he’d use the Fiesta Bowl as another chance to boost his draft stock on a big stage. His focus is still on beating Notre Dame.
In a year in which the Buckeyes were accused by national pundits of not being on the same page, Elflein appears to be on whatever page the team wants him to be on.
His announcement came at a time when the Buckeyes needed some good news. After all, they watched Kareem Walker commit to Michigan, George Hill commit to Pitt and Antwuan Jackson commit to Auburn. It’s not a crushing sequence of events, but Urban Meyer has had better weeks.
It might not seem like it, but Elflein’s return is more important than the commitment of a four-star 18-year-old.