UPDATE: Ohio State cornerback and Nordonia native Denzel Ward has confirmed he won't play in the Cotton Bowl Classic as the projected first-round pick looks to protect his draft stock.

Earlier this month, Ohio State center Billy Price said there was "not a chance" any of his teammates would sit out the Buckeyes' Cotton Bowl Classic against USC in order to protect their draft stock.

As it turns out, Price may have been wrong.

According to multiple reports from Arlington, where the Cotton Bowl is getting set to kickoff, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward did not participate in warmups and is not expected to play against the Trojans. Ward, a native of Macedonia and product of Nordonia High School, is projected to be a first-round pick and one of the first players at his position selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

A first-team All-American selection, Ward recorded 15 pass breakups and 2 interceptions in 13 games this season. He is expected to be the fifth Buckeyes cornerback to be selected in the first round in the past five years.

The absence of Ward will provide a blow to an Ohio State pass defense looking to slow down USC's high-powered offense, led by a projected first-round pick of its own at quarterback in Sam Darnold. In his absence, look for increased playing time for freshman Jeffrey Okudah.

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