Ohio State junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his four suspended cohorts will officially return for their senior seasons, holding up their end of the agreement they forged with coach Jim Tressel before the Sugar Bowl.
The NFL released its list Wednesday of juniors who declared early for the league’s April draft. No Buckeyes appeared on the list.
Tressel required Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas to pledge to return for the 2011 season before granting the players permission to travel with the team to New Orleans for the Jan. 4 bowl game.
“I’m really pleased with the young men and how they have fought through it and stayed true to form,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told The Lantern on Wednesday. “They’ve learned a lot and will continue to learn a lot.”
The NCAA announced Dec. 23 the suspensions of the five juniors for the first five games of the 2011 campaign after learning the athletes sold apparel and memorabilia to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor in 2009.
Freshman reserve linebacker Jordan Whiting earned a one-game ban. All six players must repay the value of the benefits received for the gear and discounted tattoos.
Each of the five juniors vowed to uphold his end of the bargain, but without a binding agreement several preferred not to speculate what the others would actually do.
“Everybody’s different from the situation that happened. Everyone comes from different places; everyone’s financially different and economically different,” Thomas said following the Sugar Bowl. “You can never judge. That’s something that this process with the NCAA and the suspension has taught me.”
Junior center Michael Brewster, widely considered a potential first- or second-round draft pick, will also return for his senior season.
In all, a record 56 players applied for early entry for the draft, seven from the Big Ten. Wisconsin lost running back John Clay and defensive end J.J. Watt. Illinois lost running back Mikel Leshoure, who finished second in the conference with 1,697 rushing yards, linebacker Martez Wilson and defensive tackle Corey Liuget. Iowa defensive back Tyler Sash and Indiana’s Tandon Doss, who led the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving and return yards combined) also bolted for the NFL.
Big man on campus
Pryor’s suspension leaves the Buckeyes with a vacant quarterback position for the first five games of the 2011 season. Joe Bauserman, who will be a redshirt senior, and Ken Guiton, who will enter his redshirt sophomore season, are expected to vie for the starting gig.
Freshman Braxton Miller, ranked by most recruiting outlets as the nation’s No. 1 or No. 2 incoming quarterback, could also factor in.
Miller enrolled early at OSU, starting classes with the rest of the student population Jan. 3.
The Buckeyes can only hope it won’t take as long for him to find his way onto the football field as it does for him to find the location of his new classes.