Ohio State hosts Buffalo Aug. 31 to kick off its 2013 season. At this point, the Buckeyes look like they could be without two of their biggest stars.
Running back Carlos Hyde was suspended from the team after an alleged assault against a female over the weekend. It gets worse for head coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, however, as star cornerback Bradley Roby was arrested in a separate incident.
Hyde is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 12-rated senior running back.
Meyer has shown an intolerance for violence against women in the past. Last year he dismissed linebacker Storm Klein from the team following an alleged altercation with a woman. Klein was later reinstated to the team when the charges were dropped.
Roby, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated cornerback prospect for the 2014 draft, could be in an even worse situation because charges have already been filed.
Monroe County records list Roby as being arrested in the early Sunday morning hours in Bloomington, Ind. He is facing preliminary charges of battery resulting in bodily injury, reportedly for refusing to leave a bar after a disturbance took place there.
If either Hyde or Roby are lost for a significant amount of time it could be a significant blow to the Buckeyes' chances of competing for a Big Ten and perhaps even national championship this fall.
Roby, 5-foot-11, 193 pounds, was named a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award following a redshirt sophomore season in which he led the nation with 19 passes broken up. Viewed as the top cornerback prospect out of Ohio State since Malcolm Jenkins (whom the New Orleans Saints selected No. 14 overall in 2009), Roby was expected to continue a proud tradition of talented Buckeye defensive backs in 2013. Prior to the arrest, he was viewed as a likely top-10 prospect.
While there is plenty of time for him to earn back his good graces with the Buckeyes and prospective NFL teams, Roby will have his work cut out for him. NFL teams are more cautious than ever of off-field concerns considering the Aaron Hernandez fallout.
Should Roby be lost for significant time, Ohio State boasts plenty of talented cornerbacks who could step in. None, however, offer Roby's combination of athleticism and experience. Redshirt freshman Tyvis Powell was a star in the spring and was characterized by some close to the program as likely to take over as the primary nickelback this fall. Senior Corey Brown could also be in play. Despite playing in 33 games over his career, he would provide the Buckeyes with little more production than the inexperienced Powell, having record just 11 total tackles during that time.
The 6-foot, 242-pound Hyde is a powerful north/south runner who enjoyed a breakout junior campaign last year, rushing for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns. His physical running made him an excellent complementary piece to star quarterback Braxton Miller, the only player to rush for more yards at Ohio State last year (1,271 yards and 13 TDs) than Hyde.
Prior to Monday morning's news, Hyde was viewed as a mid-to-late-round prospect in large part because his success has come against quality competition. If Hyde is unable to earn back his position with the Buckeyes, he could find it difficult to latch on with another team and play this season.
The news could be just as troubling for Ohio State's running game. While the Buckeyes boast several talented running backs behind Hyde on the depth chart, none offer much experience. In fact, the combination of Miller and Hyde contributed 77 percent of the team's rushing yards in 2012 and 78 percent of its rushing touchdowns.
Rod Smith, a 6-foot-3, 238-pound junior, would appear to be in the best position to take over as the Buckeyes' big back. He averaged a gaudy 6.7 yards per carry last season and rushed for 215 yards and two scores on the year.