Heyward, Chekwa return to Ohio State

After losing defensive end Thaddeus Gibson to the NFL, Ohio State Buckeyes received a huge boost Tuesday when defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said he's staying in school.

Heyward, who some projected as a first-round draft pick if he declared, will anchor a talented Buckeyes defense in 2010. Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa also will return next fall.

"I sat down and talked at length with my family about my situation, and they totally support my decision," Heyward said in a statement released through Ohio State. "I've been blessed to this point. I am just having fun being a college student. ... I want to help our team achieve the goals of winning another Big Ten title and possibly accomplishing a national championship.

"If I could win some recognition, that would be great as well. I think I can be a leader for our team, and I know another season will help me become a better player."

Heyward earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and led the team with 7.5 sacks this season. He had 11 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery for a touchdown against Michigan.

Chekwa said in a statement from the team, "I am not ready to leave Ohio State, and I am looking forward to my senior season. I prayed about this decision and talked about it with my parents, and I know this is the right decision for me."

He recorded 43 tackles, an interception and eight passes defended this season.

Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com.