After Bowl, Doss Will Decide Whether To Turn Pro

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State safety Mike Doss said he will wait until after the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 to decide whether to turn pro.

"I'm just thinking about what's here and now," Doss said. "The NFL is always going to be there. You only get to be in college one time.

"After the first, I'll have to sit down with coach (Jim) Tressel and make the decision."

Junior cornerback Derek Ross, out for the Outback Bowl after shoulder and toe surgery, has already decided to make himself available for April's NFL draft, meaning he can't travel to the game with the team.

Doss, a junior, is holding off because he wants to concentrate on preparing for the rematch with South Carolina, which beat Ohio State 24-7 in last year's Outback Bowl.

The team has this week off -- Doss is home in Canton -- and leaves for Tampa, Fla., on Friday.

"I'm having a lot of fun right now, soaking up this last month of the season, and I want to go out with a big win," he said.

Doss also isn't sure where he would be picked in the draft, a consideration for most players who decide to forfeit their final year of college eligibility.

"We're waiting to see from the NFL what Michael's numbers are," Tressel said. "I think it will be pretty clear-cut. I think they will tell him if he's going to be a one, a two or a later-round guy. Then we'll have something to talk about."

NCAA rules allow players to gain a feel for where they stand by asking the NFL to poll personnel experts.

If Doss is projected as a first-round pick, Tressel said it might be in his best interest to leave Ohio State for the NFL.

"I have a formula which I think is pretty good: If you're going to be a first-rounder, I think you have to go," Tressel said. "(I) don't want you to go, would rather you stay. But being a first-round draft choice in the NFL is significant."

Doss' pro stock rose with his performance in the Buckeyes' 26-20 win at Michigan on Nov 24. He intercepted two passes, setting up a touchdown and a field goal.

Linebacker Joe Cooper said it helped dispel the notion that Doss, known as a hard hitter, couldn't stay with receivers.

"This year, he was covering a lot, and that brings another good aspect out in his game that people can see," Cooper said. "As a safety, if you can come up and hit, and you can cover, what else is there for you to do?"

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)