Ohio State linebacker Tyler Moeller has been lost for the season, head coach Jim Tressel confirmed after the team’s August 11th practice.
Moeller, a junior who was a projected starter, suffered an undisclosed injury during the summer that has required time in the hospital. He has since been released from the OSU Medical Center.
“No, I’m not betting on being back this year playing,” Tressel said. “There was a moment where I was nervous about he might not play (ever) and he loves this game.”
Tressel said Moeller is expected to eventually rejoin the team in some capacity but added that it will not be for some time.
Exact details surrounding how Moeller was injured remain elusive, and Tressel declined to further clarify what had happened. OSU senior safety Anderson Russell told reporters August 9th that Moeller had been injured during 7-on-7 drills. Tressel said he was not aware of the injury occurring during the summer drills but pointed out that he is not allowed to oversee them himself.
“I wasn’t there, and I try not to play judge and jury and get involved, but we all have our legal rights,” he said. “From what I gather, Tyler didn’t have much to do with what happened.
“Would I be privy to talk about the whys and the wherefores? No, because there are extenuating circumstances that are ongoing. Needless to say, it’s unfortunate.”
He is not the only Buckeye who did not report to camp. Wide receiver Ray Small and defensive lineman Robert Rose are not on the camp roster and were not at practice. Small’s father told BuckeyeSports.com that his son is waiting for a grade to post, while Rose’s father referred questions to Tressel.
Regarding Rose and Small, Tressel said they had not been invited to summer workouts either.
“They were in a group with about seven guys that worked out this summer that weren’t invited to camp,” he said. “They’ve got a little bit more work to do to try to gain an invitation, but at this moment they’re not part of the group that was selected to come and take part.”
Tressel did say there is a chance Small could be added to the roster within the next week. Asked why the Big Ten’s leading punt returner from a year ago was not invited, Tressel said, “Because he hasn’t earned his spot.” He declined to elaborate further.
As a sophomore, Moeller had 18 tackles including 3 for loss and was projected to replace the graduated Marcus Freeman in the starting lineup. Now a number of faces will clamor to fill his shoes this season.
Tressel said senior Austin Spitler has played some strong-side linebacker during the spring, and that continued during fall practice with Brian Rolle at middle linebacker and Ross Homan at the weak-side spot. However, he added that players will continue to rotate and mentioned Etienne Sabino and Jonathan Newsome as players who can play the strong-side spot.
Tressel said Moeller was a high-energy guy who had apparently caught the eyes of his teammates during the summer.
“The weight room guys have been posting this “Top Ten Tenacious” list,” he said. “I don’t really know what the criteria is and it’s posted in the doorways as you come into the building. He was a guy who was up at No. 1, 2 or 3 every time I walked by. You can tell how hard he works and his teammates know that.
“They know how hard Tyler works. He’s been here four years and he’s done whatever the team needs. When you have guys like that, of course they’re tremendously appreciated by their teammates.”