NEW ORLEANS - The clock is ticking. Ohio State will know this week if All-Americans David Boston and Andy Katzenmoyer will return for their final season with the Buckeyes or declare their intention of making themselves available for the NFL draft. College juniors have until Friday to decide. Based on his Ohio State records and the steadying influence he would be to a first-year quarterback in 1999, Boston might be the biggest loss to the Buckeyes. "I'm in the process of gathering information right now," the first-team All-American wide receiver said Saturday morning. "Then I'll sit down, talk to my family and friends and make a decision." Coach John Cooper doesn't believe that Friday night's 24-14 victory over Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl should be the last time the two juniors appear in scarlet and gray. Cooper said he has met frequently with Boston in the past three weeks to sell him on the pros of staying and the cons of leaving. "If I thought he was making the right decision by leaving, I'd tell him to leave," said Cooper, who has lost 10 underclassmen to the pro draft just since 1992. "I think he needs to come back. I think David can win the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. ... This guy can win the Heisman Trophy." Through his three seasons, Boston owns Ohio State records for receptions in a game (14), season (85) and career (191), receiving yards in a season (1,435) and career (2,855) and touchdown catches in a career (34). Boston said the fact that his batterymate, quarterback Joe Germaine, is graduating won't influence his decision. He said he's not interested in setting more records or winning awards, but in being on a team that finishes No. 1. "I'm not going to come back just to try to win the Biletnikoff Award," Boston said. "I'm having a lot of fun right now. College football is great. I enjoy playing with the Buckeyes. Our fans are loyal to us. I just have fun at Ohio State." Cooper said fun is a huge reason to stay in school. "The No. 1 reason I tell him to come back is because he should be having more fun right now than he'll ever have in his life," Cooper said. "That's the No. 1 reason he ought to come back: The joy of the college experience, the joy of your last year in college. Professional football is always out there. You're only going to play so many years in the NFL anyway." With several other top receivers already available in the draft, Cooper said he wonders if it is worth it financially to Boston to make the jump a year early. "If you're not going to be the first guy taken at your position, then why should you come out?" he said. Katzenmoyer, the Butkus Award winner a year ago and a third-team All-American this season, has not spoken to reporters about his plans. Many believe he will forgo his final year of eligibility. He had academic difficulties before the season and had to pass three classes last summer to maintain his eligibility. But Cooper said Saturday that Katzenmoyer was in good standing academically. He also said he had advised the big-play linebacker _ as he did with Boston _ to stay at Ohio State. "Obviously, we're not going to be as good without those two guys," Cooper said. "Both of them are outstanding football players. I'm going to do everything I can to bring them both back. I hope they both come back. But if they leave, we'll still have a good football team." Rob Murphy, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound first-team All-American offensive guard, said after the bowl game that he would stay in school. A notoriously straight shooter in interviews, Murphy said his decision was final. But he also would not be the first 21-year-old to have a change of heart. "I already have decided," he said. "I'll be back next year. I've talked to my parents about it and I decided I'm having too much fun here. I love the coaching staff and the players. It's a great thing to be a Buckeye."