Tuf Borland toed the no-comment line as requested on Tuesday and didn’t answer questions about the impact of the Urban Meyer suspension on him and fellow players, but the linebacker perked up when asked about his status.
“I’m ready to go,” he said.
That was as big as the news got out of Ohio State players’ first interaction with the media in more than a month. They were quarantined as acting head coach Ryan Day ran preseason camp due to the absence of Meyer, who is suspended through Sept. 2 and barred from coaching the first three games of the season.
That also had meant no updates on Borland, last year’s starting middle linebacker who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the spring that required surgery. He has been on the comeback since, and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said this week that Borland is close to returning.
Will it be this week in the season opener against Oregon State at Ohio Stadium?
“That’s up to the coaches,” Borland said, smiling. “We’ll see what happens.”
He was listed as a backup, along with Justin Hilliard, behind No. 1 middle linebacker Baron Browning on the first depth chart Tuesday. To say the least, it would be remarkable if he does see playing time in the opener, considering the injury.
“Normal play, just kind of a freak thing,” Borland said of how it happened in the spring. “Thanks to the training staff and the coaches, I’m ready to go.”
Day confirmed Tuesday what had been rumored throughout preseason, that freshman tight end Jeremy Ruckert could be playing sooner rather than later.
“He is a talented young man,” Day said of Ruckert, who was a five-star prospect when he signed with Ohio State out of Lindenhurst, New York. “We do have a little more depth at the position this year going into game one.”
The Buckeyes lost Marcus Baugh to the NFL, but Day referred to this year’s starter Luke Farrell and last year’s backup Rashod Berry, while adding that Jake Hausmann has nursed a pulled hamstring through preseason. That allowed Ruckert more time to prove himself.
“Luke has done a good job, he is the starter … and there is a little more depth there, and that will give us a little more versatility in terms of our personnel groupings,” Day said on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. “And I think Jeremy will play early this season.”
Weber raring to go
This time a year ago, Mike Weber was a returning 1,000-yard back who was nursing a sore hamstring, and then freshman J.K. Dobbins took the opportunity to run past him to more than 1,000 yards himself. Both had strong camps and are listed with an “or” between their names at the top of the depth chart.
“I’m very impressed with the way Mike Weber practiced this summer,” Day said. “His approach has been excellent, and he needs to continue with that. But he has really been practicing hard, finishing his runs, and I hope this translates into really high-end play for him, because he has been doing the things we’ve been asking him to.”