Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott will be surrounded by several familiar faces for the first round of the NFL draft.
Elliott is one of five Buckeyes planning to attend the proceedings at the Auditorium Theatre on Thursday night. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer also will be on hand.
If Elliott, cornerback Eli Apple, defensive end Joey Bosa, offensive tackle Taylor Decker and linebacker Darron Lee go in the first round, it would tie two other schools for the second-highest total since 1967. Southern California (1968), Miami (2002) and Ohio State (2006) also had five players go in the first round, trailing only Miami in 2004 with six.
"It's special just because we jokingly, three of us, used to talk about this," Elliott said Wednesday. "Darron, myself and Joey, we were roommates freshman year and we jokingly used to talk about this, and just to see 2 1/2 years later that we're here, we're all here together, sharing the moment together, and that collectively our dreams did come true."
Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil was a prep star at Columbia High School in Lake City, Florida, before playing his college ball at Mississippi. Tunsil, expected to go in the first half of the first round on Thursday night, remains connected to his small hometown near Jacksonville.
"I'm doing it for them," he said. "I got the city on my back, man. ... It's got my back, too, so that's pretty exciting."
ABOUT THOSE QUARTERBACKS
Four quarterbacks from non-FBS schools have been drafted in the first round since 1979; Joe Flacco (2008), Steve McNair (1995), Ken O'Brien (1983) and Phil Simms (1979). Carson Wentz of North Dakota State almost certainly will join that list on Thursday night, expected to be one of the top two selections.
"I've always believed in myself to be right there at the top," Wentz said. "But obviously for some people it took longer to figure that out, and that kind of just is what it is. But I believed in myself through this whole process."
LOVE THE MONSTER
Ohio State DE-LB Joey Bosa could be the first defensive player selected Thursday night. He recognizes that playing for a national champion (in 2014) in a challenging conference (Big Ten) and for one of college football's winningest coaches (Urban Meyer) helped his draft status.
"The difference in the way OSU players work out is that they are more physically and mentally prepared for the next level of competition," Bosa says. "When you are playing in the Big Ten, you have to compete every single week or you are going to get beat. So getting to play great games with great tradition and compete against the best players has been awesome."
As for Meyer, Bosa couldn't be more complimentary: "At first, it is hard to have a relationship with him because it takes a lot for him to get him to trust people, but once you gain his trust and you trust him, there is nothing he wouldn't do for you."
Bosa knows it will take more than a solid resume and strong bloodlines -- his father was a first-round selection by Miami in 1987, his brother will be a Buckeye this season -- to make a mark in the NFL. He recently signed his first endorsement deal with sports nutrition company Met-Rx, which Bosa was introduced to as a teenager by his father, who then owned a local gym.
"Ever since I've been training back here in South Florida, after every workout, I've come home and my mom would make me chocolate, banana, and peanut butter Met-Rx protein shake," Bosa says. "It is nice having her there to make it for me to recover after every workout. I've learned a lot at Ohio State that hydration isn't about just drinking a lot of water, and that there are a lot of other different vitamins and electrolytes that you need to perform at the highest level like I have to everyday when I train."
Not all of this draft's picks will be disclosed first in Chicago.
On Saturday, all 32 teams will announce picks from special locations around the world. The Colts will use Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Sage Karam revealing choices. Kansas City's selections will be announced by servicemen at Whiteman Air Force Base, while the Titans' will be disclosed by military personnel from the 118th Wing at Berry Field Air National Guard Base.
Even Mexico will get in the act. Raiders alumni Jim Plunkett and Lincoln Kennedy will do the honors from Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, where the Raiders will host the Texans in November.