Ohio State will open fall camp minus three scholarship players, and at best only two of them will rejoin the team anytime soon.
The Buckeyes reported to kick off the 2009 season today, and missing in action were Tyler Moeller, Robert Rose and Ray Small. An OSU spokesperson said 103 of the 105 players on the roster had reported and listed those three as having not arrived. Once a player is added to the list of 105, he can not be removed unless he is injured.
Moeller, a linebacker who is expected to compete for a starting job, is expected to return within a few days. His absence is due to an undisclosed injury. NBC 4 Columbus reported Saturday night that he was listed in fair condition at the OSU Medical Center and was being treated for a head injury.
His addition to the roster would leave one spot for any of six players who are essentially on standby, the spokesperson said.
This means that the Buckeyes will have either Small or Rose this season but not both.
“(Moeller) obviously wants to be here, but it’s something that’s out of his control,” said senior Todd Denlinger, who said he has spoken with Rose but not with Moeller. “I pray that he has a fast and healthy recovery. I know I’ll see him back here before too long.”
Small led the Big Ten in punt returns as a junior but also missed two weeks due to a team suspension. Rose saw limited playing time after recovering from surgery to both shoulders and was viewed as a potential breakout player on what should be an experienced defensive line for OSU.
Moeller was pegged as a potential starter at linebacker this season after recording 18 tackles as a sophomore and putting together an impressive spring.
In the weeks leading up to camp, Both Small and Rose had been rumored to be academic casualties who might not join the team. Small's father, Ken, told BuckeyeSports.com that his son would be fine academically but said Rose was ineligible until he finished a class he was currently enrolled in.
According to Ken Small, his son is now waiting for a history grade to post on his transcript and should join the team within the next week if not sooner.
“The grade is in,” he said. “They have to wait for it to post and then he can report.
“He was hoping it had posted yesterday but it didn’t. It probably should post tomorrow, but they have reserved a spot for him.”
Rose's mother, Shirley, said she believes the situation had to do with her son's grades.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but I think it has something to do with his grades,” she said. “I think he couldn’t come because of his grades.”
She then directed questions to Rose's father, Robert Sr., who referred questions to OSU head coach Jim Tressel, who will not be available for comment until Tuesday morning.
Rose attended a charity event put on by the Buckeyes on Wednesday but declined comment when approached by reporters. Small and Moeller were not in attendance.
Senior Anderson Russell said that the team will not dwell on the situation as preparations for the 2009 season get underway.
“Hopefully we’ll get them back as soon as we can, but it’s a full team,” Russell said. “If something happened to me, the team would have to go on. I’ll be thinking about those guys but you can’t stop our whole team. I’m praying that they all get back as fast as they can because they’re guys I care about.”