Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward was a very late scratch from the Cotton Bowl, the last game of a college career that led him to the No. 4 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. In fact, it was so late that his coaches weren’t aware he was skipping the game until shortly before game time. Right around kickoff, he tweeted this announcement and ended up spending the game in street clothes on the sideline.
Ward apparently was a game-time decision in his own mind too, and kept the coaching staff abreast throughout his decision process.
"The coaching staff was aware that Denzel's decision to play or not play would not be made final until game day. He elected today to sit out," [and Ohio State statement] read.
Nearly every bowl game is an exhibition. They’re very fun exhibitions that elicit real emotions that we love to watch, but exhibitions nevertheless. Ward staying with the Buckeyes to be a part of the team and continuing to mentor his younger fellow DBs helps them out, and they get to shine on the bowl stage while he looks on as a supportive teammate. Ward’ll be taken high in the NFL Draft, and not jeopardizing that draft stock by potentially getting hurt in this game is fine.