The duo from Cleveland Glenville did not report to camp with the rest of the team and were not listed on the roster, which entered Thursday evening at 103 players. The first word actually came from sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who said Small would be returning Friday.
Asked to confirm the news, Tressel said, "He may. We've got to get some things done," without elaborating further. When asked if he was optimistic that Small would return, he said, "Yeah, yeah" and nodded.
However, Tressel said Small probably will not join the mix at wide receiver. He led the Big Ten in punt returns a year ago as a junior despite missing two games due to suspension.
"You always want guys to progress," Tressel said of Small. "You don't like detours. You don't like obstacles or things that don't move you forward at the pace you feel like you need to move. Yeah, you do like the ball to start rolling forward and perhaps we can get it rolling forward here soon."
Asked if Rose, a defensive lineman, had made the same progress as Small toward returning to the team, Tressel said, "He's progressed pretty well, too, so we'll see." Asked if that meant Rose could join the team Friday, Tressel said, "He could," but did not elaborate further.
Although reasons were not given for neither player being on the roster, Small's father, Ken, told BuckeyeSports.com on Sunday that each player was going through a different academic situation: Small was waiting on a grade to post, while Rose was finishing a class necessary to regain his eligibility.
Following the second day of practice, Tressel said neither player had been invited to summer workouts either but were there on their own merits.
Rose posted photos of himself on his Twitter page showing himself posing in front of a bathroom mirror at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Wednesday. Later that day, he wrote, "I'm all smiles now … I wonder why???"
Small was more direct on his page, messaging freshman wideout Duron Carter on Thursday, "I'll b bak 2 morrow."
Should Rose and Small join the team, they will not immediately jump into the fray. The NCAA mandates that players who begin fall camp have an acclimatization process to go through, meaning they would have to have helmets for two days and in shells for two others before being able to don pads and begin hitting.
Those stipulations would be in addition to any imposed by the OSU coaching staff for missing time. Tressel said both players would be treated differently because their cases are the same.
Teams are allowed to carry 105 players through fall camp. Tressel said the possibility remains that the Buckeyes will add two players who are not named Rose or Small.
"Right now we have 103 in camp, so Ray could be in, Rob could be in, we've got a longsnapper that we're still wrestling with – we only have two in right now – and then we have a receiver who's not in right now, so we're trying to figure out the best situation," he said.