The Columbus Dispatch is reporting today that Ohio State won’t lose any juniors to the NFL draft. All five of the players facing NCAA violations have kept to their word and will be returning for the 2011 season.
Micheal Brewster who is not facing violations will also return at center. An earlier article in the Dispatch reported that Brewster saw the need for leadership and felt that he could provide that leadership during the 2011 season.
Leadership may be a serious issue as the Buckeyes start the first five games without their top seniors. Even if the suspensions are reduced, and it’s looking like that may be difficult, there will be an interesting chemistry as the early season starters give up their positions to the seniors returning from suspension.
Something tells me though that Coach Tressel will be able to manage this also. The fact that all five suspended players stuck to their word and will all return to play one more year (and get their degrees) says volumes about Tressel’s leadership.
The five suspended players are only suspended from games, not practice so all will be on hand throughout the early part of the season. We’ve got a great quarterback coming on board in Braxton Miller. It will be interesting to see how Tressel works with two top level qbs in the program. Miller will get some valuable early season reps pay off both next season and also if he’s called upon due to a Pryor injury.
This year’s Illinois game may have looked a little different if Pryor had a backup like Miller waiting in the wings.
The penalty will hurt the Buckeyes in the preseason rankings but I think they have a great shot at the BCS Championship game.
Update; ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg Admits He Was Wrong
Although I can’t say the same about the rest of the ESPN staff, Adam Rittenberg (who blogs about the Big Ten) has stepped up saying that his early comments regarding the suspensions were wrong. According to Rittenberg:
There are times when those of us in the media need to admit we’re wrong, and this is one of those times.
…I can’t control what my media colleagues do, but I’ll fully admit I underestimated Tressel and his influence on his players. If these guys didn’t care about disappointing their coach, at least one if not more would be entering the draft. Pryor and the others didn’t want to let down The Vest, and that’s very significant.
I don’t know how many other coaches could do what Tressel did in this situation, especially when some of the players have opportunities to get paid at the next level.
He’s right. It is significant. It’s just as significant to hear him make this admission and I respect him for it. Something tells me Mark May won’t be jumping in to join him any time soon.