One day after the arrest of their teammate, the Buckeyes are trying to put their focus on Saturday’s game while also dealing with the situation at hand.
Monday night at around 8:30 p.m., redshirt freshman Antonio Henton was arrested for allegedly soliciting a prostitute near Ohio State’s campus. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning in Franklin County Municipal Court to the charge, a misdemeanor.
His immediate future is uncertain. Head coach Jim Tressel said he will not lose his academic privileges, but he has been suspended indefinitely from the team and will not travel to Minnesota this weekend.
“Antonio Henton has made an error,” Tressel said. “Obviously we’re disappointed, to say the least. We’ve got to do first and foremost do what we have to do to make sure that Antonio is well cared for.”
Tressel said he learned of Henton’s arrest Monday night when he received a phone call from one of the team’s administrators.
Henton will likely not be reinstated to the team until the legal process has finished, the coach said, although he stressed that each legal situation is different.
“I would think in most cases you need resolution to situations,” Tressel said. “I don’t know about every case but obviously until we get a much greater feel for what it’s all about.”
In his second year with the Buckeyes, the soft-spoken Georgia native has served as the team’s third-string quarterback after fighting for the starting position with junior Todd Boeckman and sophomore Rob Schoenhoft through summer workouts and fall camp. In four games, he has completed 3 of 6 passes for 57 yards and one touchdown for a passing efficiency rating of 184.80. In addition, he is fourth on the team in rushing, having carried the ball nine times for 41 yards.
At Tressel’s weekly press luncheon, both Boeckman and sophomore safety Kurt Coleman expressed their surprise and their support for their teammate. The Buckeyes do not practice on Monday, so Tuesday will be the first time the team will be together to discuss the incident.
Boeckman said the word slowly got around though phone calls and text messages, but that he was unsure of the details of Henton’s incident. He first heard about Henton’s arrest Tuesday morning.
“We really don’t know everything, so I can’t say much about it,” he said. “He’s a great player. He has great character. It’s tough for me to see him do something like this. How this happened, hopefully it won’t turn out to be.
“I couldn’t really see him doing something like this.”
Coleman, who is friends with Henton through Henton’s roommate, safety Aaron Gant, said he was stunned when he heard the news. Coleman gives Henton rides to the airport for his flights home when the Buckeyes have time off.
“Our hearts and prayers are with Antonio,” he said. “The Antonio I know, he’s a great person and I’m always there for him.”
With Henton shelved for an indefinite period of time, fourth-string quarterback Joe Bauserman now moves up the depth chart. After playing minor-league baseball for the last three summers, Bauserman opted to enroll at OSU to give football a chance.
Bauserman had been splitting scout-team duties with Henton, but will now primarily assume that responsibility. He will make the trip with the Buckeyes to Minnesota this weekend.
Tressel said that should something happen to both Boeckman and Schoenhoft, he has confidence in Bauserman’s abilities.
“I think Joe’s really coming along,” he said. “He hadn’t thrown a football for three years, so the first week or so was a little different. All of a sudden, when he got his experiences back there, you could see that he’s got great pop in his arm.”
As the Buckeyes prepare for the Golden Gophers this weekend, they will now have to deal with trying to not let Henton’s situation overshadow their preparations. Tressel said it affected him Monday night as he attempted to break down film.
“I think it can’t help but affect (the players),” he said. “But you’ve got to make sure that you let it affect you as little as possible, just like you would any other adversity you would face.”
“I don’t think it will really be a distraction for us because we’re going to be focused on our next team with Minnesota,” Boeckman said. “We’ll just keep playing hard, and hopefully it will turn out to be alright.”