Defending national champion Ohio State suspended four players, including All-American defensive end Joey Bosa, for their season opener for athletic department violations, the team announced Thursday.
Bosa, a junior who’s projected to be a top pick in next year’s NFL Draft, along with half-backs Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson, and wide receiver Corey Smith, will all sit out Sept. 7’s matchup against Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes athletic department cited violations of policy as reason for the one-game bans, and ESPN reported the suspensions were due to marijuana and academics.
Head coach Urban Meyer commented on and pledged his support for the decision.
"I kind of knew about this for a little bit," Meyer said at the start of Big Ten Media days Thursday in Chicago. "The university and the athletic department has policies that I fully support. Whether it's a sprained ankle or stuff [like a suspension], you try to create a culture and move forward. We lost Braxton Miller [last season] 10 days before our first game, we lost J.T. Barrett a week before the Big Ten championship game, and you just push forward. Get going, move forward."
According to The Columbus Dispatch, when Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith was asked to clarify what the violations were, he responded: “I’m not going to get into that.”
The Dispatch explains, but could only speculate, that since the suspensions are for only one game its possible player(s) failed a second test for a recreational drug or maybe missed too many classes.
While the Hokies finished 7-6 last season, head coach Frank Beamer’s squad are a formidable foe capable of stunting Ohio State’s bid for an undefeated season and second-straight national title. Virginia Tech was the only team to beat the Buckeyes on their path to the national title, claiming a 35-21 victory in Columbus, and five of the Hokies' six losses last season were by seven points or less.
The loss of Bosa is especially troubling for the Buckeyes. He was a unanimous All-American selection after collecting 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles-for-loss, leading the Big Ten in both categories. Ohio State’s top pass rushers after Bosa were Michael Bennett and Darron Lee, who combined for 14.5 sacks last season, but Bennett has since moved on to the NFL.
Playing as a true freshman last season, Marshall was third on the team with 38 catches for 499 yards and six touchdowns. Smith was a transfer who tallied 20 catches for 255 yards last season, while Wilson, a senior, suffered a broken ankle late last season against Michigan State after totaling 21 receptions for 300 yards.
The announcement of the suspensions comes after Ohio State received the No. 1 overall ranking in the first preseason poll released Thursday. Ohio State received 62 out of 64 first-place votes from USA Today.