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National championship notes: Is Tom Brady’s Bucs successor playing Monday?

Bucs fans should be watching a few NFL draft prospects Monday, plus why Trey Sermon looks like another Ezekiel Elliott.
Alabama's Mac Jones likely will be an early-round pick in this spring's NFL draft. He could make sense for the Bucs.
Alabama's Mac Jones likely will be an early-round pick in this spring's NFL draft. He could make sense for the Bucs. [ RON JENKINS | AP ]
Published Jan. 9

A few odds and ends on Monday’s College Football Playoff national championship game between Alabama and Ohio State:

Five NFL prospects to watch

Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood is an NFL prospect Bucs fans should know and watch against Ohio State.
Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood is an NFL prospect Bucs fans should know and watch against Ohio State. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields: After starring in the semifinal win over Clemson, Fields has another chance to make his case for being the draft’s No. 2 quarterback (behind Tigers star Trevor Lawrence).

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones: He won’t go as high as Fields, but he’s a potential first-round pick. Could the Bucs consider him as the eventual successor to Tom Brady?

Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood: The 6-foot-6, 312-pound Pensacola native was an All-American and likely will be an early-round pick. Given Tampa Bay’s need at tackle, Leatherwood is a name Bucs fans should know heading into the draft process.

Related: Why NFL teams might (and might not) want Gators’ Dan Mullen

Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade: Another probable early-round pick, Wade could be tasked with trying to shut down Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. Good luck.

Ohio State receiver Chris Olave: Don’t overlook the Buckeyes’ top target (42 catches, seven touchdowns). The 6-foot-1, 188-pound California native is a first- or second-round pick.

2014 flashback

Trey Sermon has dominated his past two games, just as another former Buckeyes back (Ezekiel Elliott) did during the team’s run to the 2014 title game.

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott ran over everyone at the end of the 2014 season, including Alabama.
Ezekiel Elliott ran over everyone at the end of the 2014 season, including Alabama.

Regular-season finale: 17 carries, 121 yards, 2 TDs in 42-28 win over Michigan

Big Ten championship: 20 carries, 220 yards, 2 TDs in 59-0 win over Wisconsin

CFP semifinal: 20 carries, 230 yards, 2 TDs in 42-35 win over Alabama

National championship: 36 carries, 246 yards, 4 TDs in 42-20 win over Oregon

Trey Sermon

Ohio State's Trey Sermon has starred over the past three games.
Ohio State's Trey Sermon has starred over the past three games. [ GERALD HERBERT | AP ]

Regular-season finale: 10 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD in 52-12 win over Michigan State

Big Ten championship: 29 carries, 331 yards, 2 TDs in 22-10 win over Northwestern

CFP semifinal: 31 carries, 193 yards, 1 TD (plus 4 catches for 61 yards) in 49-28 win over Clemson

National championship: ??

Patrick Surtain homecoming

Alabama defensive back Patrick Surtain II will be playing where his father starred.
Alabama defensive back Patrick Surtain II will be playing where his father starred. [ RON JENKINS | AP ]

The championship is more than a south Florida homecoming for Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II. It’s another chance to play in the same stadium where his father, Patrick Surtain Sr., starred as a three-time Pro Bowler with the Dolphins.

“I just remember him making plays out there, having fun, but also just knowing what it took to get here,” the younger Surtain said.

Mac Jones vs. Shaun Wade

Ohio State's Shaun Wade will be facing off against his former 7-on-7 teammate, Mac Jones, this weekend.
Ohio State's Shaun Wade will be facing off against his former 7-on-7 teammate, Mac Jones, this weekend. [ JOHN BAZEMORE | AP ]

One of the game’s most important matchups — how Buckeyes cornerback Shaun Wade fares against Alabama quarterback Mac Jones — has an important Florida backstory: The two were on the same Jacksonville 7-on-7 team in high school.

Jones remembers Wade as being humble, especially for a five-star prospect. Wade said the entire team always believed in Jones, a mere three-star recruit they nicknamed “Money-Making Mac.”

“From 7-on-7, we always knew that Mac was a great quarterback,” Wade said. “He put the ball in the right spots just like he’s doing now. Strong arm.

“Just really, really looking forward to seeing him Monday and just playing against him.”