After having its five players who are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season contribute to its Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl victory, the Ohio State football team will now wait to see which of the suspended players, if any, will return to Columbus for their senior seasons.
The five suspended players: Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas, all played major roles in the Buckeyes’ 31-26 Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas, and likely helped their respective stocks heading into the 2011 NFL draft.
Before the game, OSU coach Jim Tressel said that the five players were required to make pledges to return for their senior season before he would allow them to play in the bowl game.
“If indeed they wanted to stay a part of our family and make the trip and have a chance to participate one of the greatest games of all time, the Sugar Bowl, they would have to make any decisions based upon their future NFL (careers) prior to us going to the bowl game,” Tressel said. “We didn’t think it would be fair to the NCAA or fair to the other people involved in the process that if someone were able to participate and have no consequences down the road.”
In an apology to OSU fans on Dec. 28, Posey, who caught three balls for 70 yards and a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl, said that he would return to OSU in 2011.
“I promise to return for my senior year, to be a leader on and off the field and to receive my degree from The Ohio State University,” Posey said.
Pryor, who was named MVP of the Sugar Bowl after passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 115 yards, also committed to returning for his senior year after the game.
“I don’t think I’m really ready for the NFL. I think I’ve got a lot of learning and better decision-making I have to make on and off the field,” Pryor said. I “talked to coach Tressel and we have a plan going down and I have to follow it exactly how he put it.”
OSU is currently in the process of appealing the suspensions, in hopes of having the number of games that the five players are suspended for reduced.
After the Sugar Bowl, Adams, OSU’s starting left tackle for all 13 games of the 2010 season, said that he would wait to see the result of the appeal before making a decision to return or not. Three days after the game, Adams indicated via his Twitter account that he would be returning to OSU in 2011.
“Official word on me? I’ll be in Columbus for my senior year with my boys lovin life,” Adams posted on Jan. 7.
Thomas, who had the game-saving interception with 58 seconds left, said that he was confident that all of his four of his fellow suspended teammates would return; however, he would understand if any of them made the decision to turn pro.
“Everybody’s different from the situation that happened. Everyone comes from different places; everyone’s financially different and economically different,” Thomas said. “You can never judge. That’s something that this process with the NCAA and the suspension has taught me.”
The deadline for underclassmen to declare themselves eligible for this April’s draft is Jan. 15.