Today, Jim Tressel reported that although LB Tyler Moeller has checked out of the hospital, he will miss the 2009 season with head injuries.
This is huge news to Buckeye Nation because Moeller was expected to compete for a starting position on the defense.
Reportedly, the junior was injured on a Florida trip when he was punched by an unidentified person and his head hit on the ground.
He remains in all our prayers and we wish a full recovery and hope that he may return to the football field for 2010.
In the meanwhile, the Buckeyes now have to deal with how their LB corps will be affected by this setback. As mentioned, Moeller was an early favorite to be a starter at SLB.
Practice earlier in the day saw the first team line up with Austin Spitler, Brian Rolle, and Ross Homan as the linebackers from left to right.
Homan is pencilled in at WLB because of his experience of starting last season with James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman.
Spitler is a fifth-year senior who is a devastating hitter and has been waiting patiently for his opportunity.
Rolle, a junior, is the smallest of the three, but probably the fastest and most athletically gifted of the projected starters.
Sophomores Etienne Sabino and Andrew Sweat, both blue-chip LBs are also fighting for starting jobs and can both play either inside or outside.
Freshman Storm Klein, who joined the team for the spring, has also seen time with the backups in early practice action and could very well see the field.
Klein is already physically ready for college football and played well in the spring game last April.
One guy who is ready to catch the eye of the coaching staff is blue-chip freshman LB Dorian Bell. The top defensive prospect from Pennsylvania, Bell has alot of physical tools including tremendous speed and he is a great hitter as well.
Bell is more likely to start on special teams and grow into a more advanced role as he gets more of a grasp on the defensive concepts.
While this unit of the defense is deep in talent, it will be hard to replace the ability Moeller brought to the table.
Moeller plays with tremendous speed and a high motor as well, making him a terror in the backfield as well as in coverage.
Though it is unclear whether Moeller will play football again for sure, the duty of pressing on will fall on the guys at his position. The ultimate team sport in this instance will call for a team effort to replace a warrior who will be out of action this upcoming season.