COLUMBUS - Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said yesterday evening that senior wide receiver Ray Small, who has been missing from preseason training camp this week while he addresses academic issues, could rejoin the team as early as today.
"He may. We've got to get some things done [first]," Tressel said about Small's situation as the Buckeyes assembled in game-day dress inside Ohio Stadium for picture day.
Small was in the top 10 in the country in punt return average last season and had a 69-yard return for a touchdown in the win over Ohio. He has 46 career receptions as a Buckeye but has been in and out of Tressel's doghouse several times. The Cleveland native was stripped of his original number at one point and then suspended last November for violating team rules.
Tressel said if Small returns to the team today, he would not be involved in practice and scrimmaging until he completed some "activity," which likely meant running or other solo physical work.
Also yesterday, the family of injured Ohio State junior linebacker Tyler Moeller released a statement clarifying some of the details of the alleged assault that resulted in a serious head injury, ending Moeller's season. He was expected to start for the Buckeyes this year, after spending the last two seasons as a backup and playing special teams.
In the statement, Moeller's mother, Amy, said the family was vacationing in Florida last month, celebrating Moeller's grandparents' 50th anniversary. On their first night in Florida, Moeller and several family members were in a restaurant/bar, and Moeller was assaulted.
"He never saw it coming and did nothing to provoke it, which is substantiated by neutral parties," Amy Moeller said in the statement. "The subject was immediately arrested, and the case is currently in the hands of the state's attorney's office."
The Ohio State junior spent three days in an intensive care unit in a Florida hospital before returning to Columbus, where he underwent surgery last weekend at Ohio State Medical Center to relieve pressure on his brain.
Moeller, who was on hand yesterday for the Buckeyes' team photo, has been recovering at home in Cincinnati this week.
"Tyler is doing extremely well and chomping at the bit to get going again," his mother said. "We fully expect him to be on the field again - we are just not sure of the time frame."