Ohio State’s Wells considering early exit to NFL

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Standout tailback Chris ‘‘Beanie’’ Wells has a tough decision to make.

If his coach were making the call on whether he should stick around for his senior season at Ohio State or jump to the NFL a year early, Wells would take the money and run.

‘‘If it were me, it wouldn’t be tough,’’ coach Jim Tressel said of Wells’ impending decision. ‘‘In my opinion, he ought to be one of the first five guys picked.’’

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Wells wasn’t available for the Buckeyes’ Fiesta Bowl media day on Tuesday. There were reports that he drove a brother — he has 10 siblings — to the doctor’s office.

Tressel confirmed that Wells is contemplating whether to come back for one more season at Ohio State. The coach said Tuesday that he told Wells to not even bother filling out the evaluation forms for the NFL, since the league knows what it will be getting based on the 2,700 yards Wells has gained the past two seasons with the Buckeyes.

Wells, who has 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns in 7 1/2 games this season, is one of seven Ohio State juniors who are considering making the early jump into the NFL draft. The other six have all filed requests with the NFL to check where they might be taken in the draft.

The others are wide receiver Brian Hartline, defensive backs Kurt Coleman, Anderson Russell and Donald Washington, tight end Jake Ballard and offensive lineman Jim Cordle.

‘‘There’s a curiosity,’’ Coleman said. ‘‘I feel like I’ve been along with such great people that they helped me raise my game to the next level. I just want to see what the next level thinks about me.’’

A year ago, 13 Buckeyes sent paperwork to the NFL requesting an assessment of the player’s draft prospects. All 13 stayed except for defensive lineman Vernon Gholston, who was taken in the first round by the New York Jets.

Cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, one of the returning players, said the easiest decision is to come back and play another year with your friends. But he conceded that finances and health could change things for Wells and the rest.

‘‘If this was a pressure-free world and no one was pushing millions in his (Wells’) face, then it would be a no-brainer for him to stay here,’’ he said. ‘‘Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.’’