After three years with the Buckeyes and two seasons as starting cornerback, Gareon Conley believes he is mentally and physically ready to take his career to the next level.
With Ohio State's football program notorious for consistently producing NFL talent, it's easy for some players to fade into the background.
For cornerback Gareon Conley, this meant having to play behind fellow Buckeyes Eli Apple and Bradley Roby and then alongside top draft prospects Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore in this year's class.
"I don't feel forgotten about," Conley said. "I embrace everything I get and take advantage of everything I get and that I've been given. I congratulate them for everything they've been given, too. They're like my brothers and they deserve everything they're getting right now."
Although Conley's entire college career was surrounded by elite talent; he took his time with Ohio State as an opportunity to standout.
"Everything you do, you've got to give your maximum effort and I feel like there's a high standard," Conley said. "There's no medium, average or low standard. There's such a high standard that you've got to compete with people that are just as good as you so you've got to outwork them."
After redshirting his first year as a freshman, Conley played in 41 games at Ohio State with 26 starts. Over his three seasons with the Buckeyes, he recorded six career interceptions and 91 career tackles. With that, the second-team All-Big Ten selection believes he is mentally and physically ready to take his career to the next level as he enters into the 2017 NFL draft.
"I feel the mental is more a part of the game," Conley said. "The challenges they've given us we overcame, like practices being harder than games, has really prepared us well. A lot of guys here have a lot of talent, a lot of ability, so it's going to be real competitive and I'm ready for it."
Conley is projected to fall anywhere between the mid-first round to the late-second round in this month's draft. Physically, the six-foot 195-pound cornerback has great speed and arm length (33 inches) that allows him to play press-man and zone coverage. He also has great eyes and has the ability to anticipate receiver routes.
However, for Conley, what sets him apart is more than just physical.
"I set myself apart mentally," he said. "My mental toughness and ability to handle adversity on and off the field sets me apart. I think about it but use it as motivation that I have to work harder than them. I'm a competitor, I play hard, I'm coachable and that I'm humble and confident."