About a week shy of six months ago, Ohio State graduate senior linebacker Justin Hilliard tore his Achilles tendon. It happened early in spring ball and was another setback for a Buckeye who has had his share of injuries in his 4+ years.
Hilliard was listed as OUT for the first two games this season, but is no longer part of that list. Nor is he on the game-time decisions list, which means he has been cleared to play and is currently Brendon White’s backup at Bullet.
This is an incredibly quick turnaround for Hilliard, who is following a pace — and possibly exceeding it — set by Tuf Borland a year ago.
Hilliard spent his first two seasons injured, but found a valuable role on special teams the last two seasons. Expect to see him back out there again before too long.
Backup Bullet Jahsen Wint being injured is new news, as he has been healthy until very recently.
Given Indiana’s spread offense, the Buckeyes could be utilizing the Bullet position a good bit on Saturday. Brendon White should be fine, but if he went down for any length of time, would it be Hilliard going in, or would the Buckeyes just keep a Sam linebacker (Pete Werner) on the field instead?
Part of what makes this defense effective is Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison’s ability to plug players in wherever they are needed, and they would no doubt be able to do that at Bullet as well.
There are no other major changes from the availability report. Senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper is out once again, as is senior H-back CJ Saunders, and sophomore defensive tackle Taron Vincent.
No updates have been given on any of these three players, though Ryan Day did say on Thursday that they would know more about Cooper after Thursday’s practice. Cooper is getting closer to being ready, but they have no intention of rushing him back too early and causing lingering issues for his senior season.
Here is the availability report.
§ WR Kamryn Babb
§ DE Jonathon Cooper
§ DT Noah Donald
§ SAF Owen Fankhauser
§ TE Cormontae Hamilton
§ SAF Ronnie Hickman
§ H-B C.J. Saunders
§ DT Taron Vincent
§ SAF Jahsen Wint