January 18, 2011

'Tat Five' appears to have kept pledge

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - When five-game suspensions were announced for five key Ohio State underclassmen during preparation for the Sugar Bowl, there was much speculation those players would opt for the NFL after the 2010 season.

Those players - consisting of quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams, and defensive end Solomon Thomas - now seem to be sticking it out.

After five-game suspensions for next season were announced in late Dec. following an investigation that found those players had sold memorabilia given to them by Ohio State in the form of awards, head coach Jim Tressel made them pledge to return for their final seasons if they wanted to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.

All players reportedly obliged to Tressel's plan and played in the bowl game - a 31-26 win over Arkansas - while making big plays along the stretch to help the Buckeyes pull out a win.

Now the deadline to declare early for the NFL Draft has come and gone with no word from Ohio State. While there is no official word those players are returning, an Ohio State spokesperson said it is her understanding the players should be back.

"That's what I think also," Ohio State SID Shelly Poe said when asked if it is safe to assume all would be returning, "but I haven't seen the NFL list yet."

Though Poe wouldn't confirm the return of the seniors as fact, Ohio State has set previous precedent with sending releases out of the decisions of underclassmen and the NFL.

Last season after Ohio State's victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl, the athletic department took less than a week to announce former defensive end Thad Gibson's decision to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

The deadline to declare for the draft passes Saturday and those players usually apply through their schools. The NFL has yet to produce the official underclassmen list for the draft, but in this instance a lack of news from Ohio State should certainly be taken as encouraging.

Posey was the only player that committed to returning for his senior season when the five players made public apologizes to the media for the first time before the team left for the bowl game.

When talking about the "pledge" the players made to Tressel once in New Orleans, Pryor didn't have encouraging words that all were 100 percent committed to returning for their final season.

"It is important to keep your word, but at the same time, some guys have different situations, and I think some guys pledged and some guys, you know, were just basically saying sorry," Pryor said New Year's Day. "I know other guys are in different situations.

"I can't really think that if they would choose to leave they were breaking the pledge, because I don't say automatically. I think some guys have different situations. Speaking for myself, once you pledge something, I think you got to keep your word."

After the win, Adams said he would talk the decision over with his family before committing to his return to Ohio State. But inn the end, though, it looks as if the Buckeyes will return five key pieces to their team in 2011.

The Buckeyes are currently in the process of appealing the five game suspension that athletic director Gene Smith thought was "harsh," but Ohio State will not comment further on the process until there is a decision given.

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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