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Ohio State starting cornerback (Donald Washington) suspended for title game


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[quote][size=5][b]Ohio State starting cornerback suspended for title game[/b][/size]
Thursday, December 20, 2007 3:32 AM
By Ken Gordon and Tim May


Ohio State starting cornerback Donald Washington and reserve corner Eugene Clifford have been suspended for the national championship game because of a violation of team rules, a source close to the team confirmed last night.

There were no details on the nature of the violation, except that it is not a legal issue.

The loss of Washington is significant. The sophomore from Indianapolis has started every game this season and played well, twice being named the team's defensive player of the week.

He has 34 tackles, a sack and an interception returned 70 yards for a touchdown against Kent State.

In November, while discussing who has stood out on defense, center Jim Cordle called Washington "the most underrated corner in the nation."

His absence means redshirt freshman Chimdi Chekwa likely will start with Malcolm Jenkins at the corners. In the nickel defense, safety Jamario O'Neal now likely will get the nod.

Previously, Chekwa has played corner in nickel and Jenkins has shifted to safety. Andre Amos, Nick Patterson and Aaron Gant also could see more playing time.

Clifford, a freshman from Cincinnati, has played in four games and has eight tackles.

In March, while in high school, Clifford was cited for marijuana possession by Colerain Township police. He paid a $105 fine for the minor misdemeanor.

Because he had not enrolled at OSU, Clifford did not fall under the school's drug and alcohol policy. A university spokesman said, though, that because of the infraction, Clifford might be subject to more stringent testing.



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[quote][size=5][b]OSU confirms Clifford suspension; no word on Washington[/b][/size]
Thursday, December 20, 2007 5:47 PM

A statement from Ohio State this afternoon confirmed that backup cornerback Eugene Clifford has been suspended from the football team, but it did not mention starting cornerback Donald Washington, whom The Dispatch and WCMH-TV reported last night had also been suspended.

The statement said that coach Jim Tressel had suspended Clifford for an unspecified violation of team rules and that Clifford will not play in the BCS championship game.

Clifford, a freshman from Cincinnati, has played in four games and has eight tackles.[/quote]

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[quote][size=5][b]Corner reportedly appeals suspension[/b][/size]
[size=3][b]Washington's status for title game unclear[/b][/size]
Friday, December 21, 2007 2:55 AM
By Tim May


Ohio State yesterday suspended reserve defensive back Eugene Clifford for the national championship game but made no mention of starting cornerback Donald Washington.

The Dispatch, quoting sources close to the team, reported yesterday that Clifford and Washington would be suspended from the game Jan. 7 against LSU because of an unspecified violation of team rules. Several more sources yesterday said that Washington, a third-year sophomore, had appealed his suspension and his status won't be known for days, perhaps after the Christmas break.

Coach Jim Tressel could not be reached for comment yesterday. Athletic director Gene Smith declined to comment.

Tressel issued the suspension to Clifford, according to the athletic department news release. A freshman from Cincinnati Colerain, Clifford played primarily on special teams, making eight tackles in four games.

The loss of Washington would be more significant. In his first season as a full-time starter, he had developed into one of the better cornerbacks in the Big Ten, adept at coverage and in defending against the run.

His 70-yard interception return for a touchdown against Kent State showed a knack for the spectacular. He had 34 tackles and a sack in 12 games.

If Washington is available for the title game, the Buckeyes won't have to make new plans in trying to stop LSU's offense. If he isn't available, it's likely that freshman Chimdi Chekwa would be the starting cornerback opposite Malcolm Jenkins. Chekwa has played extensively in the team's nickel defense this year, and his entry prompted Jenkins to move to safety and safety Anderson Russell to drop down into the nickel slot.

There is a good chance that Andre Amos, who bloomed late after coming back from injury, would step into the rotation at cornerback and play in nickel situations.

The Buckeyes broke for Christmas after practice on Wednesday. They will reconvene Wednesday for six days of work in Columbus before heading to New Orleans on Jan. 2.


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[quote][size=5][b]Report: Buckeyes' starter Washington eligible to play[/b][/size]
ESPN.com news services

Updated: December 28, 2007, 12:35 PM ET

Ohio State cornerback Donald Washington is eligible to play in the Allstate BCS Championship Game, OSU athletic director Gene Smith said Friday, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

On Dec. 20, Ohio State suspended backup cornerback Eugene Clifford for violating team rules. According to media reports, Washington was also suspended, but an Ohio State spokesperson had said that was not the case.

Washington has been practicing since the team returned Wednesday from holiday break, according to the Dispatch.

Washington is a sophomore who has started every game for the Buckeyes (11-1). He played a key role in an Ohio State defense ranked among the best in the nation. He has 34 tackles, tied for seventh-best on the team with lineman Vernon Gholston, and also has two tackles for losses, one sack, one interception, which he returned 70 yards for a touchdown, and one fumble recovery.[/quote]

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