Moeller On The Comeback Trail

Tyler Moeller showed how important he can be to the Ohio State defense in the first four games of 2010 only to suffer a season-ending injury for the second year in a row. Now finishing off his rehab from the torn chest muscle suffered at Illinois, Moeller said he's on the right path to be ready come August and is looking forward to his last season in scarlet and gray.

When observers of the Ohio State football team talk about its potential in 2011, one of the major assumptions is that senior defensive back/linebacker Tyler Moeller will be back to health.

The player most likely to line up at OSU's vital "star" position, Moeller has played only five games in the past two seasons and saw his 2010 campaign come to a swift close in the Big Ten opener when he tore a chest muscle on the first drive at Illinois.

The good news is that the potential difference maker says rehab from that injury – which also kept him from scrimmaging with the team during the spring – is coming along swimmingly and has him on track to be ready when fall camp starts in August.

"I feel great," he told at last night's OSU Scholar-Athlete Recognition Dinner. "I really started kicking into gear the past month. My strength gains are great right now, and I feel great. I have 2½ months left, and I'll be ready by August."

Moeller estimated that he's at 75 percent right now but is improving his bench press by 10 pounds every week. At the moment, he's able to do four sets of 10 reps at 175 pounds, and his goal is to get that up to 225 by the start of camp.

"I was just talking with some of the guys today, my body is almost a complete difference from like a month ago," he said. "My strength gains are great right now, and I'm excited to get back and start the season."

Moeller, a sixth-year player out of Cincinnati Colerain, said he was fourth on the bench press on the team before first injuring the pec muscle two years ago. Further complicating matters was the serious head injury he suffered in the days leading up to the 2009 season when assaulted in Florida, an injury that cost him the entire campaign.

While he eventually recovered from that incident, the chest muscle never healed before finally reaching its breaking point as he tried to make a tackle vs. the Illini.

"For two years, I didn't bench at all," he said. "Right when I came back from my head injury I tried to bench and I tore it again a little bit, so it's nice to be back benching again and feeling good that way. That's one of our major lifts, and it's definitely a pride thing. Two times a week you see people benching, and you're on the dumbbells doing light weight, it's kind of a bummer. It's good to be back on the team and lifting with them and being able to run with them. It's exciting."

Moeller's excitement to get back to full strength in the weight room is comparable to how much he's looking forward to making an impact on the field. While he occasionally took part in individual position drills during the spring and continued with his rehab on the sidelines, he wasn't cleared to take part in team scrimmaging.

"I got out there and they let me be a part of it a little bit," he said. "It's kind of discouraging when you see people out there playing and getting to practice, and you don't get to practice. I'm excited for camp to start and being able to fully participate with the team. When you're not there, you can get down on yourself a little bit. I'm really excited about our defense and how we're going to play."

The Buckeyes will gladly welcome him back to the Silver Bullet defense. After redshirting in 2006, Moeller was a reserve for most of 2007 and '08, though he made 18 tackles in the latter season and seemed to announce his presence with a seven-tackle performance at Illinois in which he forced a fumble while starting in place of the injured Jermale Hines.

He looked like a possible starter at linebacker going into 2009 but the serious head injury he suffered left him unable to play and even unsure if he'd even be able to return in future seasons. However, he slowly improved, hitting the weights in the winter, returning to the field for individual drills in the spring of 2010 and finally being cleared for contact drills in July.

Moeller shined in his return, making 20 tackles the first four weeks of the season. He was also a big-play machine as OSU's hybrid linebacker/safety, making 4½ tackles for loss, one sack and one interception while forcing two fumbles.

Still, the hope of playing an entire season motivates the 6-1, 210-pounder who plays with a reckless abandon.

"I have a lot to prove," he said. "There's so many things I want to do, and the past year I couldn't do that because of the injury so I really want to have a full year, a great year. I'm excited to go out there and prove what I can do."

Moeller was also attending his third Scholar-Athlete Dinner last night, which honors those who boast a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. He was one of 40 football Buckeyes to qualify for the banquet, and former offensive lineman Scott Sika cleaned up, winning three postgraduate scholarships to help him gain his graduate degree in sports management.

"It's always great to show that everything you worked hard for is appreciated," Moeller said. "Having more than a 3.0 and being a part of the tradition at Ohio State with grades and things like that, it's great to be here. Ever since I've been here, they push academics and really just being a great person and preparing for life. To come here and be a part of it and see Scott Sika getting all those awards, it's great."

A consumer affairs major with a minor in business, Moeller is set to graduate this quarter and hopes to enter the sales field at the conclusion of his football career.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories