Throughout fall camp, Ohio State football players and coaches often commented on how physical the camp had been. Given that fact, it might be surprising how few injuries the Buckeyes suffered, especially those coming from contact, but head coach Jim Tressel still had a number of injuries to discuss at his weekly Thursday meeting with the media.
The most dire situation comes in the form of linebacker Curtis Terry, just one of two seniors expected to be in the defense’s two-deep this season. However, it sounds like the Cleveland Glenville grad might be a senior in 2008 instead if his ankle injury does not heal, and the coaching staff is discussing a redshirt for Terry.
“The last thing I heard was early Big Ten,” Tressel said when asked when Terry might return. “And with a guy like Curtis who has a redshirt available – I’m not saying that we’re going to redshirt him, but I think you have to make good decisions if the injury goes too far into the year.”
Another surprise came in the form of bumps and bruises for wideout Albert Dukes and kicker Aaron Pettrey. Dukes, who has been usurped on the depth chart by freshmen Dane Sanzenbacher and Taurian Washington, banged a finger during a practice drill and missed Thursday’s practice, his third missed practice because of the malady. Tressel said he did not know for sure if Dukes would be able to play Saturday.
Pettrey has been fighting a leg injury but Tressel said he expects the sophomore to take Ohio State’s first kickoff of the season.
On the good news front, explosive sophomore receiver Ray Small, who rolled an ankle in camp, could be back soon.
“He could be back as early as next week,” Tressel said with optimism in his voice. “It’s possible. You never know on those but that’s possible.”
Tressel also discussed which of the 15 scholarship freshmen might see playing time this season that starts with Saturday’s game against Youngstown State. The seventh-year head coach previously stated that eight of the 15 are expected to play, and he named six players – receivers Sanzenbacher, Washington and Devon Torrence, defensive end Cameron Heyward, running back Brandon Saine and cornerback Eugene Clifford – who will definitely play.
Not mentioned by Tressel but also expected to see time are linebackers Brian Rolle and Jermale Hines, who have impressed with their play on special teams.
As for defensive backs James Scott, Nate Oliver, Rocco Pentello and Donnie Evege, as well as tailback Boom Herron, the quintet is on the bubble for playing time, with Scott and Herron appearing to being the closest to break through. Offensive lineman Evan Blankenship and defensive end Solomon Thomas probably will not see time on the season.
As for which signal callers will see time on the field Saturday, Tressel said Robby Schoenhoft will play after starter Todd Boeckman, but redshirt freshman Antonio Henton is no sure thing.
“We’ll see, but from the get-go, I want to make sure we get Robby in,” Tressel said. “Antonio keeps coming along though. We’re really pleased.”
The Buckeyes have 74 scholarship players on the roster this year, meaning a number of walk-ons could be in line for a grant-in-aid in 2007. The decision will come after the first game but some of the Buckeye long snappers, including seniors Dimitrios Makridis and Jackson Haas and freshman Jacob McQuaide, could be in line.
“We’ll probably begin those discussions after this game,” Tressel said. “There’s a couple long snappers that are really in the hunt from that standpoint. A guy like (sophomore center Andrew Moses) is really showing that he’s going to be in the top 10 linemen. There’s a couple guys that are going to be in the discussion there.”
With the opener less than 48 hours away, Tressel said his team was very anxious to stop hitting their teammates and start hitting another team. While stopping short of saying his team was ready, he said he did think it was hungry.
“I’ve been very pleased. When you say, 'What would make someone hungry, what would demonstrate that?' I would say their attentiveness, their effort, their willingness, and I’ve seen all that. Not that I’ve ever really not seen it since we’ve been here, but it’s just very noticeable.”