April 5, 2010

Moeller moving in right direction

COLUMBUS, Ohio - When Tyler Moeller suffered a serious head injury last summer before the commencement of fall camp, there was some question as to whether or not he would ever get to play football for the Buckeyes ever again.

While the answer still may not be completely clear when it comes to Moeller's future with the Buckeyes, when spring ball started late last week, Moeller was back out on the field with his teammates.

Moeller will be held out of contact this spring, but Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel seemed optimistic he would return at some point for next season.

"I think what we have decided as a plan is to get him involved in moving around and the natural bumps that happen, but don't put him in the full go after-it contact," Tressel said after Thursday's spring opener, "so he is naturally going to have elbows smack his head and balls and hands and shoulder maybe occasionally.

"As long as he goes with that and with the running part, goes without any incident there, I have high expectations that (he will return)."

Moeller's injury dates back to last July when he was in Treasure Island, Fla., wit his family celebrating his grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. While in Florida, Moeller went to a local restaurant where a conflict ended with him being punched by a man named Ralph Gray Decker, who was charged with felony battery and is awaiting a June 2 trial in Florida.

Decker's punch knocked Moeller unconscious and the Buckeye hybrid linebacker/safety hit his head on the ground. Moeller, who is now recovering from a serious brain injury as a result, now looks to be on the right track to recovery.

But still, there are no guarantees that Moeller will ever suit up for the Buckeyes on a Saturday again. For now, Moeller has been wearing a blue "no-contact" in spring practice and will not partake in contact until possibly fall camp.

Even so, Moeller has been participating in all the drills he can with the Buckeyes to continue to learn the system. Moeller's roommate, defensive lineman Dexter Larimore, is just glad to have one of his best friends and teammate back on the field, especially because Moeller is moving in the right direction toward recovery.

"It's really nice to see him out here and hopefully getting ready for next year," said OSU senior defensive lineman Dexter Larimore, who happens to live with Moeller. "The thing that happened to him is something terrible. I think that guy should go to jail for a long time or at least have to pay a lot of money."

Now, in addition to overcoming this serious injury, Moeller is hoping to make it back with the Buckeyes - this time as a safety.

Before Moeller sustained his injury, he was expected to compete for one of the linebacker spots opening up last year. But now, after working with the safeties in the early goings of this year's spring football, it looks as if that's where Moeller will make his eventual return.

Moeller has always been seen as the prototypical player for the "Star" position, which brings a fifth defensive back into the game when Ohio State is in its nickel package in passing situations, a scheme the Buckeyes run quite a bit.

But safety is key for Tressel - not the position -which is certainly understandable given the magnitude of Moeller's injury.

"You know him, he love to play football, but we are going to be very conservative," Tressel said. "You talk about head injuries, plus I think one of the stories of next year's college football season is going to be that emphasis on head injuries and what we can do to eliminate it."

"We all need to take it real serious, so when you have an extensive head injury like Tyler, of course we're going to (be conservative) even more so," he added. "I am excited he's back out there."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at [email protected].

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