Linebacker Baron Browning to return for Ohio State in College Football Playoff semifinal

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

NEW ORLEANS -- Linebacker Baron Browning will be available for Ohio State in its College Football Playoff semifinal rematch against Clemson on Friday night.

Browning joins wide receiver Chris Olave and punter Drue Chrisman as other starters who are slated to return after missing the Big Ten championship game against Northwestern two weeks ago, according to a pregame status report.

Olave had been expected to be back after the team had shared pictures of him on social media at practices, and Chrisman had traveled with the team to New Orleans.

Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Baron Browning (5) jogs around the practice field during the first day of spring football practice on Monday, March 2, 2020 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

The return of Browning gives the Buckeyes a fully healthy core of linebackers for the first time since November.

Before Browning had been out in the Dec. 19 conference title game, middle linebacker Tuf Borland was sidelined for a win at Michigan State on Dec. 5. Browning has been the strong-side linebacker this season, while Pete Werner switched to the weak-side.

But 16 players from Ohio State will be unavailable against Clemson, including a pair of starters on offense between running back Master Teague III and left guard Harry Miller.

Teague left the Big Ten championship game with an undisclosed injury, while Miller tested positive for the coronavirus.

Miller’s mother shared the news of his positive test in a post on Facebook earlier Friday, according to multiple news outlets, though it was no longer public.

After Teague was injured against Northwestern, Trey Sermon ran for 331 yards to set a school single-game rushing record.

Defensive end Zach Harrison, who is tied for third on the team with two sacks, is also unavailable.

Some of the other additional scholarship players out for the semifinals include tight end Joe Royer, plus offensive linemen Josh Fryar, Grant Toutant and Enokk Vimahi. Defensive end Tyler Friday and wide receiver Jaylen Harris remained out.

Running back Steele Chambers, quarterback Gunnar Hoak, safety Marcus Hooker, defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste and wide receiver Jaxon Smith Njigba are available.

Reserve safety Ronnie Hickman is a game-time decision.