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Ohio State's Doran Grant and Devin Smith change focus from national title to NFL careers

On Saturday the Buckeyes will celebrate a national title victory. While they do that, two their starters will be taking part in the Senior Bowl and preparing for the NFL Draft.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

MOBILE, Ala.: While the Ohio State Buckeyes are celebrating their national championship at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, two of the team's starting players will be at another stadium and not wearing scarlet and grey.

Cornerback Doran Grant and wide receiver Devin Smith will be participating in the Senior Bowl at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The pair barely had time to celebrate a 42-20 title win against Oregon before starting preparation for their NFL careers.

"It's just one of those things you had to do," Grant said. "It's not really 'man I need to do this,' it's 'go ahead and do this' because it's for your life. I knew it was coming in the back of my head, so it wasn't really hard."

The Big Ten Network is airing Ohio State's celebration on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon. A packed house is expected and Ohio State's band is even playing.

"The hardest part is not being able to celebrate as much as you want," Smith said. "But when you get to this level it's all business. I'll have my times to reflect back on the national championship game but I'm obviously worried about the next task at hand."

For Smith, the next task at hand could be landing in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

In his first mock draft of the year, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout, slotted Smith into No. 19 to the Cleveland Browns. ESPN's Mel Kiper had Smith going No. 32 to the Seattle Seahawks in his mock draft.

"It's a blessing to be mentioned in the first round. I'm not going to change anything I do because some people are starting to know me now and my name is starting to spread," Smith said. "I just want to stay the same and humble as I always have and keep the process going."

The process for Smith at the Senior Bowl has been getting drilled on running intermediate routes. At Ohio State, he was often used on deep vertical throws, especially when Cardale Jones took over as the team's starting quarterback.

"I think everybody knows the deep ball is my go to," Smith said. "I feel like I'm faster than a lot of people I line up against, so I use that to my advantage as much as possible. I know I can run intermediate routes, but the offense I was in at Ohio State focused on me getting deep."

Along with Alabama's Amari Cooper, Grant said Smith was one of the players he had to guard because of his deep speed. The two have practiced against each other for the North team at the Senior Bowl. It's a considerable difference in playing against Oregon earlier this month. Grant said he especially enjoyed the atmosphere of that game.

"The red carpet was rolled out for that one," Grant said. "It was big time being the first college football playoff championship game."

Grant, who started two seasons for Ohio State, knows it will be hard for the Buckeyes to back to next season's title game, but he expects them too. Of course the Buckeyes' chances improved dramatically when Jones announced he was returning for his junior season at Ohio State. The move surprised Grant.

"I thought he was leaving for sure," Grant said. "He decided to  come back and get his degree and that's a good decision on his part."

That's not it for Ohio State, though. In addition to Jones, they return running back Ezekiel Elliott, most of the offensive line, a loaded defense led by top 2016 NFL prospects Joey Bosa and Darron Lee and more.

"We have some freshmen you haven't even seen that will probably be first-round picks," Grant said.