When he arrived at Ohio State, Ray Small was dubbed as the next Ted Ginn Jr., a player electrifying enough with the ball in hands to make something happen on every play.
Now it appears his Buckeye career is over, as Small has been
suspended by the Buckeyes for at least two weeks while his father, Ken,
feels the situation is the latest in a string of moves that have held
his son back while in Columbus.
“This thing goes back and back and forth but we thought
we had resolved all the issues with the coaching staff at Ohio State,”
Ken Small said. “Ray’s biggest problem was while he was in the
so-called doghouse earlier it was because he was late to a couple
classes and late to a team meeting and I think he fell asleep in one of
After having toiled in what OSU head coach Jim Tressel
once termed “a pretty big doghouse” during the offseason, Small endured
a number change and saw his name appear alongside the team’s walk-ons
in the 2008 media guide. He appeared to have put his past problems –
situations such as arriving late to class or team meetings – firmly in
the rearview mirror.
Following the USC
game, Small was the team’s leading receiver with 14 receptions for 92
yards. For the year, he is second on the team with 18 catches for 149
But on Wednesday afternoon, Small called his father to
tell him he had been suspended again and that he was not allowed to be
within the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for two weeks.
Ray Small showed his father a piece of paper showing
that he has missed class four times, but Ken Small said he contacted
the professor who assured him his son was there. Ken Small said his son
also missed practice time to vote early in the week and that the
absence was excused but still held against Ray.
“Today was out of the clear blue sky,” Ken Small said.
“It’s like they were sitting around looking for ways to wreck Ray
Ken Small then pointed out that other players have
failed drug tests and been arrested for DUI but have faced weaker
punishments than his son in his eyes.
Ray Small ran afoul of the coaching staff prior to
spring practice, and the junior went through spring practice unsure as
to whether or not he would be allowed to participate in the team’s
annual spring game. Later that spring, the coaches had a meeting with
Small’s parents, his brother and teammate Rob Rose, also an alumnus of
Cleveland Glenville and a close family friend.
The decision was made to stay in the program and work to prove his worth.
“I just felt like you’re at The Ohio State University and
people would kill to be in your shoes and now you want to walk away,”
Ken Small said. “I looked around and saw all these pictures of these
great football players and I said, ‘My son’s picture could be up
The Small family entered the season believing that Ray
was in the clear and poised for a big season. At the team’s media day
during fall camp, Ray Small told BuckeyeSports.com that he had grown
throughout the process and was looking forward to proving that he had
put his past problems behind him.
“I’m very proud of Ray and how he’s responded to the
adversity that he’s faced in the last six or seven months,” OSU wide
receivers coach Darrell Hazell said prior to the USC game. “He’s come
back, he’s worked his tail off and he’s done everything we’ve asked and
he’s beginning to produce the way we thought he could produce.”
Following the USC game, though, Small saw just one play
of action in the team's game against Troy despite his team-high six
catches one week prior. Tressel downplayed any sort of disciplinary
situation following the game, but Ken Small said his son saw one play
of action to ensure that he would not be able to qualify for a medical
Through it all, the coaches have assured the Small
family that they want to see Ray Small remain a Buckeye. That does not
appear likely to happen now, however, as he is looking at trying to
land a spot in the NFL Combine at the end of the season with hopes of
Ken Small said they had received that advice from Glenville head coach Ted Ginn Sr.
“Right now the advice for him is to see where you place
without hiring an agent and then it’s possible you could come back next
year or go someplace else,” Ken Small said. “He’s so far in that he
really has one of two choices: one is to stay there and keep getting
abused or ignored and the other is pray that he can get invited to the
combine and show them what he can do.”
Where Ray Small will play next season is unclear at this point, but it seems likely that his time as a Buckeye is over.
“I don’t see him playing for them,” Ken Small said. “I really don’t see him playing for Ohio State ever again.”