MINNEAPOLIS -- Ohio State will be without a pair of projected starters for its season opener at Minnesota on Thursday night.
Center Harry Miller and cornerback Cameron Brown were among 11 players listed as unavailable on the team’s status report, which was released three hours ahead of kickoff against the Golden Gophers.
Miller started at left guard last season, but has been in line to be the Buckeyes’ starting center this fall. Backup Luke Wypler, a redshirt freshman who competed for the job in preseason training camp, could step in, while junior Matthew Jones also has some experience at the position.
The absence of Brown comes after he missed most of last season because of an Achilles injury.
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But in preseason practices last month, he showed signs that he made a full recovery from the injury and reported feeling “100% ready to go.” He has been expected to take over at an outside corner spot opposite Sevyn Banks. Redshirt freshmen Lejond Cavazos and Ryan Watts are among the candidates who could take Brown’s place.
It is unclear why the players are out for the opening game at Minnesota since Ohio State does not differentiate between the factors that sideline players for games, leaving injuries, COVID-19 protocols and disciplinary measures all as potential contributors.
Last season, the Buckeyes had a lot of players miss games due to testing positive for the coronavirus or being exposed to someone who did. When they traveled to Michigan State in December the week after their Thanksgiving weekend game at Illinois had been canceled due to an outbreak, they had almost two dozen players unavailable.
More than 90% of the Buckeyes are now fully vaccinated, coach Ryan Day said last week.
That means a heavy majority are not subject to regular testing and do not have to quarantine as a result of contact tracing, according to the athletic department’s COVID-19 protocols. Unvaccinated players are tested twice a week for the virus and must quarantine for 10 days if they are a close contact to someone who tested positive.
Other players who are out include wide receiver Kamryn Babb, defensive tackle Jerron Cage, safety Jantzen Dunn, defensive end Tyler Friday, offensive lineman Jakob James, bullet Jaylen Johnson, linebacker Mitchell Melton, tight end Joe Royer and offensive lineman Toby Wilson.
The loss of Cage leaves the Buckeyes without one of their backups at defensive tackle.
Some of the players had been expected to be unavailable, including Babb and Friday who have both suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments this past offseason.
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