D'Andrea Reacts to Extra Year of Eligibility

Mike D'Andrea has endured more than his share of bad luck while at Ohio State. But earlier this week, D'Andrea received some very good news when the NCAA granted his request for a fifth year of eligibility. We spoke with D'Andrea on Tuesday for his reaction to the news.

Ohio State linebacker Mike D'Andrea received good news this week when he learned that the NCAA granted his request for an extra year of eligibility.

D'Andrea is now a fourth-year junior and will be eligible to play through 2006.

The NCAA usually moves at a snail's pace – especially when dealing with eligibility appeals. Therefore, it was somewhat of a surprise that it gave D'Andrea its answer prior to the start of the season as OSU had requested.

D'Andrea was asked for his reaction when he heard the good news.

"Excitement," he said. "I was kind of relieved, I guess. Takes a little bit of the pressure off."

D'Andrea had a good feeling that the decision would come down in his favor.

"I was pretty optimistic," he said. "Even though they said it was about a 50/50 chance, I was still optimistic that I would get it and it worked out that way.

"If I didn't get it, then I would really have had the pressure of whether to play this year, or later this year, or redshirt. But now I don't have to worry about that."

The 6-3, 248-pound D'Andrea was one of the top recruits in the nation in 2002 out of Avon Lake High School.

He played in 13 games at OSU as a true freshman in 2002, mostly on special teams.

In 2003, he played in 10 games and recorded 24 tackles. He separated a shoulder against Michigan State which forced him to miss three games.

In 2004, D'Andrea beat out Anthony Schlegel for the starting middle linebacker job in camp. He started the first three games of the season, but injured his knee during the bye week following the N.C. State game. He tried to give it a go at Northwestern, but limped off during the first series of the game.

He was diagnosed with a torn ACL and missed the rest of the season.

The knee is still a problem for D'Andrea, but it's getting closer to 100 percent.

"It's still kind of up and down," he said. "But it's getting better. The downs are a lot less. So, it's a lot better."

D'Andrea hopes to suit up by the time the Big Ten season rolls around.

"I'm not going to put a specific date on it, but end of the month would be real good," he said. "That way I'd be good for the Big Ten season." D'Andrea was asked why he thinks the NCAA granted the extra year of eligibility.

"It was a lot of medical terminology stuff that the doctors put in to the letter to the NCAA," he said. "It worked out. I also wrote something. I just said, ‘I wasn't really sure going into the Northwestern game what was going on with my knee.' That was basically all I wrote."

If the NCAA had drug its feet on the decision and D'Andrea was left in limbo, he likely would have sat out this season.

"Yeah, I probably would have redshirted, because I don't want to go into my last season halfway through it," he said.

Looking back, D'Andrea knows he should have said something to OSU's medical staff about his knee prior to the Northwestern game last year. But he's not the type of guy to talk about pain.

"Not until I have to," he said.

D'Andrea is a pretty serious guy, but he couldn't help but smile on Tuesday. He knows that the Buckeyes have a talented team this season – a possible national title contender – and it would have been difficult to watch from the sidelines.

"I'm real excited," he said. "Anything I can do to help out the team. If I can go out there and make a couple plays, it would be great."

D'Andrea is expected to play middle linebacker when he returns, but he could also fill in on the outside if needed.

"I haven't really been practicing, but as of right now I'm still middle and everything," he said.

Fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk was also happy to hear the good news about D'Andrea.

"Oh that's great," Hawk said. "You've got to feel for a guy like Mike that's come in and had a lot of injury problems. We know he's a great player. It's been fun being here with Mike and to see that he actually has gotten better the last couple weeks is great. When you are hurt for that long, I'm sure it's tough on a guy and it's tough to see him like that. So, it's great to see him get healthy and it's great for him to get that extra year so he can finally prove what he came in as and he should be able to prove to people that he can play."

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