According to Ken Small, that has not been from a lack of effort on behalf of the Small family. All players considering leaving college early for the NFL are encouraged by Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel to fill out paperwork that is then submitted to the league, giving the player an evaluation of how high his pro prospects are. That report then helps the player in question to make a more informed decision about his future.
According to Ken, the Small family gathered the necessary materials when requested and gave them to the OSU coaching staff in early December. When information came back for Buckeyes considering leaving early, Small's name was not on the list.
"We entered the draft thing and they didn't turn in our paperwork," Ken told BuckeyeSports.com. "We don't know where to go from here. When we turned in the paperwork in a timely fashion it was never submitted to the NFL."
But according to OSU spokeswoman Shelly Poe, that is not the entire story.
Poe said Ray did turn in some of the necessary materials but did not include a transcript. In addition, the NFL questionnaire was not completely filled out.
"It wasn't in a condition where we could send it in," she said.
When Tressel met with reporters Dec. 16 in Columbus prior to the team's bowl game, he listed a handful of players who had submitted their NFL paperwork and Small's name was not included.
Ken said the family did not waste long in turning in their information. When the coaching staff told players considering leaving early to turn in their paperwork, Ken said he stood in line for 45 minutes to get a transcript.
That, along with the necessary questionnaire, were then both given to Ray to take to the coaching staff the following day. Tressel was not available, so Ray gave them to an intern, Ken said.
The family felt the situation had been handled appropriately until shortly before when the team headed west for the Fiesta Bowl. When other players got their paperwork back and Small didn't, his father attempted to get in touch with the coaching staff to no avail.
"We got no response," Ken said. "You don't get a response back because they know exactly what you're calling about because it's up to them to do it."
This is not the first disagreement between the Small family and the OSU coaching staff. Earlier this season, Ray was suspended for three games for breaking team rules – transgressions Ken said involved being late to a few team meetings. At the time, Ken said the family was strongly looking at heading to the NFL following the season partially at the urging of former high school coach Ted Ginn Sr.
The deadline for prospective early departures to announce their plans is Jan. 15. Ken said the NFL is re-sending them the necessary paperwork and that the hope is to get it sent back and processed in time to make a final decision.
The primary goal in all of this, Ken said, is for his son to get a degree from OSU. Ray is on track to graduate this August with a degree in human development, Ken said. However, he does not want to return for another season if he continues to feel like he is being singled out by the coaching staff, his father said.
"He's stuck between a rock and a hard place," Ken said. "We want him to stay and get his degree. He's only a couple credits away. He feels that the team actually needs him next year so he's looking to stay, but on the other hand they didn't show any incentive to where he might be featured or might be one of the main guys on the offense. We just don't know what to think right now.
"Something's going to happen, one way or the other."