Old Man Moeller Back For Final Season

Tyler Moeller, the player who mans Ohio State's hybrid linebacker/safety Star position, is back for a sixth collegiate season and looking for a successful end to his time in Scarlet and Gray. Now a veteran, the 6-0, 210-pound Moeller is grateful to be back on the field once again.

Tyler Moeller is the elder statesman on the Ohio State football team's defense.

While the sixth-year senior may be the player with the longest tenure on the 2011 roster, it's not like the 23-year-old is collecting Social Security or joining AARP.

"We still have Joe Bauserman, so that makes me feel a little better," joked Moeller, referring to Ohio State's fifth-year senior quarterback, who is older than Moeller at 25-years old and joined the Buckeyes after playing three seasons of minor league baseball. "Maybe if (former OSU kicker Ryan) Pretorius was still here I'd feel a lot better. He was 29 when he was done."

Humor from Moeller is nothing new. The Cincinnati Colerain product has been a media darling for years because of his good nature and honest answers. The fact that Moeller has kept a smile on his face throughout the years is even more impressive knowing what he has been through since coming to Columbus in 2006.

Moeller took a redshirt in his first season as a Buckeye and worked primarily as a special teams player and reserve linebacker in 2007 and 2008 and showed plenty of promise, especially late in his sophomore season in '08. The 2009 season looked like it was going to be his breakout campaign. Unfortunately that never happened. While on a family vacation in Florida in July, Moeller was assaulted in a Florida restaurant in an unprovoked attack. The assailant, Ralph Gray Decker, later pled guilty to felony battery and was sentenced to two years probation. Moeller suffered a fractured skull and a serious brain injury.

He returned to the field last fall for what was to be his final collegiate campaign and again looked primed for a special season. Moeller recorded a team-high seven tackles in the season opener against Marshall and added a sack and two tackles for loss. A week later against Miami (Fla.) he noticed six tackles, and against Ohio he caught an interception, recovered a fumble and recorded a TFL. In the fourth week of the season, Moeller netted three tackles and a pass breakup. Unfortunately, his 2010 season ended at Illinois during Ohio State's fifth game of the season when he suffered a torn pectoral muscle.

Following the season, Moeller requested – and was later granted – a NCAA waiver for a sixth season of eligibility. Now he's ready for his second chance at a final season.

"I'm just grateful to get out there for another season and be a part of a great team and a great program," Moeller said.

Moeller has embraced his role as a veteran on the Ohio State defense. The backup at his Star (aka the nickel back) position, sophomore Christian Bryant, called him a coach on the field during the preseason, something safeties coach and new co-defensive coordinator Paul Haynes echoed.

"His leadership, his work ethic that everybody sees, it carries on," Haynes said. "To have him back out here on the field … giving the effort and flying around, to me it elevates the team."

Moeller was hoping to have an injury-free season, but that dream was dashed during preseason camp when he was limited for a handful of practices with a minor groin injury, one he has since recovered from.

"I was obviously disappointed because I was excited for camp and to get reps and get ready for the season," Moeller said. "But things like that happen, especially when you don't do too much in the last two years. … I'm happy to get it over now before the season starts."

Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Moeller has been 100 percent at recent Ohio State practices and should be ready for Saturday afternoon's season opener against Akron. He will once again be at the Buckeyes' Star position in the nickel defense, one the team may utilize more often just to get the play-making senior on the field as much as possible.

No matter how often he is on the field, Moeller wants to make the most of his time. He will be one of the most active players on the field as usual and thoughts of previous setbacks will not enter his mind.

"I don't really think about (my chest injury)," Moeller said. "I didn't really thinking about (my injuries) last year. I'm not going to think about it this year.

"You can't worry about things that are wrong. I can't worry about my head. I can't worry about my chest because then what's the point of going out there? Because I'm not going ot play the way I should play or I could play. So I'm not really going to think about that. I'm just going to play the way I think I can play."

Moeller will not only play like he has in the past, but he'll do his best as a leader and a veteran in the secondary to help guide his younger teammates.

"I've been around for a while, so I know the little things we need to do," he said. "I can push it forward to freshmen and the guys that really haven't been here that much."

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