Pair of Buckeyes Put on Medical Hardship
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer will have two extra scholarships to work with for next season, but not the way he would like them.
Ohio State interim coach Luke Fickell announced this week that defensive end Melvin Fellows and linebacker Scott McVey would both be put on medical hardship, effectively ending their playing careers at Ohio State.
“We’ve probably still got a few there based on we’ve had two guys medical and stuff like that,” Fickell said.
“Scott McVey medicaled, and there’s a guy who was obviously on the roster. Melvin Fellows too. Officially their paperwork is done.”
Putting a player on medical hardship has been used a loophole in the system by some programs to free up scholarships for bloated recruiting classes, but that is not the case with McVey and Fellows at Ohio State.
“It’s tough and it’s sad, but those guys haven’t been able to play really for a year and a half,” Fickell said.
Combined they have only played a handful of snaps for the Buckeyes since joining the program. That Fellows would likely end up on medical hardship was announced earlier this year when he was implicated as one of the players who received improper payment from Bobby DiGeronimo.
The Garfield Heights product has battled chronic knee injuries dating back to his high school days and has never really even been healthy enough to practice since signing with the Buckeyes back in 2009.
The same goes for McVey, who has had multiple surgeries since joining the Buckeyes in 2010. The St. Ignatius product has a hard time lifting his arm over his head and was never going to be healthy enough for major college football.
Add in the transfer of quarterback Taylor Graham, who was granted his release from the program following the regular season, and the Buckeyes will likely have a few more scholarships to play with in the class of 2012.
“We know where we are,” Fickell said.
“We’ve got some numbers still. I think we’re still OK.”
Ohio State’s current recruiting class sits at 19 thanks to the additions of Tommy Schutt, Se’Von Pittman and Noah Spence—all of whom have joined since the Buckeyes hired Urban Meyer on Nov. 28.
There is likely to be further turnover during the off-season, but don’t expect Ohio State to start forcing guys out just because Meyer has a different way of doing things from former OSU head coach Jim Tressel.
“We have never been over in my 10 years here at Ohio State,” said Fickell, addressing the idea of oversigning.
“We’ll end up with a signing class where we say we can sign 20 and we’ll sign 20 and still have two of three more. Sometimes we’ll say we can sign 18 and we’ll sign 17 and have three or four more. You never know how that’s going to work out, so you have to do your best guess.”
The Buckeyes have done an excellent job of guessing, or at least rounding down in their estimates over the last decade. That has allowed them to award scholarships to hard-working and deserving walk-ons like Scott Sika, Ricky Crawford, Nate Ebner and Tony Jackson.
Those will likely be the players who suffer the most from Ohio State’s NCAA sanctions.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions announced Wednesday that the Buckeyes must forfeit three scholarships from each of the next three recruiting classes (nine total).
“You got to plan. Most of the time in my 10 years here you come up with a recruiting class that has two or three extra at the end. It’s kind of always worked out for us,” Fickell said.
“Who has to pay? Obviously the team in general, but obviously there will be some areas, whether it’s a guy in his fourth or fifth year doesn’t have an opportunity. Sometimes those are the areas that are going to be hurt.”
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