The saga of Antonio Henton, the third-string quarterback who was arrested Monday night on charges of solicitation, continued Thursday afternoon when head coach Jim Tressel said the redshirt freshman will continue to be suspended until his legal proceedings work themselves out.
However, the Georgian, after being kept out of all team athletic activities this week, will be allowed to begin working with the scout team before his mid-October legal proceedings, Tressel said.
“He’s suspended, as he was Tuesday,” Tressel said. “He didn’t take part in athletic activities this week. He’s working on getting organized for his legal process, which I think takes place right in the middle of October. Up until then, he’ll obviously be suspended. He’ll continue his academic work. We’ll have him practice on the scout team, and then we’ll just await the outcome.”
When asked why Henton would be allowed to practice, Tressel responded, “I just think it’s the right thing to do. He’s part of our family. You wouldn’t toss someone out of your house.”
The seventh-year coach also added that he did not consider keeping Henton from practice.
During the past weeks, Henton spent half of his time with the scout team and half with the regular offense along with starter Todd Boeckman and fellow reserve Robby Schoenhoft. Henton and Schoenhoft had been battling for the No. 2 spot at the quarterback position, a spot Henton appeared to be laying some claim to given that Saturday against Northwestern, he led four drives compared to Schoenhoft’s two.
Instead of continuing his practice work, Henton showed up Tuesday at the end of practice to meet with his teammates, then with Tressel. The coach would not divulge what Henton told him about the arrest for solicitation of prostitution, but did say that Henton was contrite during the meeting.
“He’s very disappointed, very sad that this is even being discussed,” Tressel said.
While Henton will be out for the foreseeable future, one Buckeye has made his return to the team in freshman linebacker Jermale Hines. The Cleveland Glenville product spent fall camp with the team until it found out Aug. 30 that he had not received final clearance from the NCAA clearinghouse. That came Thursday afternoon, clearing the way for Hines, who had not been allowed to even watch practice during the four-week process, to return to the field.
“Jermale is cleared and ready to go,” Tressel said before noting that he would not make the trip to Minnesota for Saturday’s game. “When we got the word this afternoon, (linebackers coach) Luke (Fickell) was looking for him to put in.”
However, Tressel said that the four weeks of missed practice have put the freshman, who appeared during camp to be on his way to earning playing time on the kickoff team, behind the eight-ball when it comes to playing time in 2007.
In injury news, Tressel confirmed that freshman wideout Dane Sanzenbacher is back after missing the Northwestern game with a concussion, as is Ross Homan, who was a game-time decision last week because of a leg injury and did not play.
“He’s doing well,” Tressel said of Homan. “I don’t know that they’re planning on playing him a ton. He’ll play for sure in some situations, but he had been playing 50 percent of the time. I don’t know that he’ll play that much.”
Tressel also noted that tailback Chris Wells, who has been dogged by recurring ankle problems, has looked very good in practice.
As for the matchup with the Golden Gophers, it will be Ohio State’s Big Ten road opener. The night game will be the first of three the Buckeyes will play on the road in conference in 2007. Tressel discussed the team’s plan for Saturday afternoon when, instead of playing, the team will be waiting around for the 8 p.m. contest in the Metrodome.
“We’ll get up, have breakfast and have some brief individual meetings,” he said. “Typically we like to go over to the stadium and have our walk-through on Saturday as opposed to Friday when we get there. Come back, have a pregame meal four hours before the game, which is what we do no matter what time we play, then we have a final meeting for about 15 minutes before we board the bus.”