A month ago, Justin Hilliard confirmed that he had already filed a petition with the NCAA seeking a sixth season of eligibility, although at the time the Ohio State linebacker was non-committal on using that sixth season if it was granted.
Wednesday, Hilliard confirmed that, late last month, the NCAA had indeed granted him that sixth season. And, at least for the moment, Hilliard says he does plan to return to the Buckeyes next season.
“We got great news,” Hilliard said according to LettermanRow.com. “Originally the process started last year, and it was something that Coach [Urban] Meyer actually mentioned to me. I had never even thought about the possibility of applying for a sixth or anything like that. He came up and asked me a couple questions for some background on how long I had been rehab, which totaled up to 24 months. He helped me start the process, started the forms with compliance and then it was a waiting game.
“I knew before Senior Day, and it was a great feeling. It’s something I’ve been waiting to hear back from, but it wasn’t something I was really stressing about, kind of just let it happen. With those type of situations, you never know how it’s going to go with the NCAA, it’s all case by case. But we got great news.”
As Hilliard missed most of his first two seasons with the Buckeyes because of a pair of biceps injury, another year of eligibility was essentially a slam-dunk.
The past two seasons (2017-18), Hilliard had played in a combined sixteen games. After missing the start of this season because of offseason Achilles surgery, he has played in 10 games thus far this year. In those appearances, Hilliard has been credited with three tackles for loss and recorded an interception.
A five-star member of OSU’s 2015 recruiting class, Hilliard was rated as the No. 3 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Ohio; and the No. 35 player overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board. The Cincinnati native was the highest-rated signee in the Buckeyes’ class that year.