Tyler Moeller found out around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday from head coach Jim Tressel that the NCAA had granted his request for a sixth year of eligibility.
The defensive back, whose fifth year in the program ended after he tore a pectoral muscle early in Ohio State’s 24-13 win at Illinois, was understandably excited to hear the news.
“It will be great to have another year,” he said while wearing a smile that would not leave his face. “My mind has been in five million different places the past couple weeks, so it’s great to know that I’ll have another year here and another chance to play.”
Tressel told him the news in front of the whole team, and the announcement was greeted with cheers from Moeller’s teammates.
As part of the application, he had to write a letter explaining why he felt he deserved another year, but he did not want to get into what he wrote. He also had to fill out a mountain of paperwork.
“The compliance department and my mom did a great job of compiling all the information and sending it in,” he said. “I didn’t have to do very much, but everyone else worked their butt off.”
“I just put my feelings out there, explained my situation, and asked for another year,” he said. “With my kind of situation, you don’t know what’s going to happen, and there was a lot of ups and downs, but I just tried to keep my head up and always think I was going to get another year and everything worked out.”
Healthwise, Moeller said he is recovering on schedule from surgery that involved putting three screws in his injured left shoulder to help the injured muscle heal.
He has been cleared to start doing more motion to stretch out the muscle and expects to regain full range of motion in six weeks then be able to begin lifting weights again in February.
“They told me if recovery goes well I’ll get 90 percent of my strength back from two years ago,” he said, referring to before he initially tore the chest muscle partially. “That would be great even if I got 60 percent back because I haven’t benched in a while. I was benching 400 pounds two years ago. Before this happened (in October), it was probably about 80.”
The timing of the announcement was convenient because Moeller had planned to take part in senior activities the following week while it was uncertain if he would be back next season.
Not getting the extra year also would have left him in a tough spot in regards to trying to make an NFL roster because of how long he would wait to be able to workout and do football activities again.
After missing all of 2009 recovering from a serious head injury, Moeller began this season as the Star in Ohio State’s nickel defense, and he was arguably the Buckeyes’ best playmaker while filling that hybrid linebacker/safety role.
Aside from being personally satisfying, Moeller’s return is important for the prospects of the 2011 defense.
The Ohio State nickel defense, as it is currently composed, includes seven seniors, including Moeller’s replacement at star, Jermale Hines, so Moeller figures to have a profound impact on the national championship hopes of a team that could return as many as eight starters on offense.
The current Buckeye unit that ranks sixth or better nationally in every major category is scheduled to lose at least two starting defensive linemen, two linebackers, both cornerbacks and a safety from their base 4-3 defense.