Three of Ohio State's top players -- including Lombardi and Butkus Award winner Andy Katzenmoyer -- have yet to meet academic requirements and could be ineligible this season.
"It's a main concern for whoever's a sports fan or a Buckeye fan, but I'm going to take care of business and be out there Sept. 5," Katzenmoyer said.
He must meet a 2.0 grade-point average by passing summer classes in music, golf and AIDS awareness.
Katzenmoyer, a first-team All-American linebacker, All-Big Ten safety Damon Moore and second-team all-conference offensive guard Rob Murphy probably will miss some of Ohio State's workouts for its Sept. 5 opener at West Virginia.
"I'm obviously not happy about it," Ohio State coach John Cooper said Friday. "I'm not happy whenever we have some players who miss practice."
If the three, all sociology majors, are unable to play, it would be a blow to a Buckeye team that returns almost all of its starters from last year's 10-3 squad and figures to be one of the best this season.
"It's just a matter of we're three All-Americans from one team and we're all in academic trouble," Katzenmoyer said. "It's just gotten the spotlight."
Ohio State is touting Katzenmoyer as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Moore, who had to pass a summer course in Swahili to be eligible a year ago, is among the best in the nation at his position. Murphy is the most experienced lineman for the Buckeyes.
"I had a lot of personal problems in the winter and spring that caused my grades to go down," Katzenmoyer said. "I screwed up in the winter and spring, so now I've got to put my time in."
Katzenmoyer, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound junior, pleaded no contest in March to a drunken-driving charge after he was cited for speeding and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.133 percent. The legal limit in Ohio is 0.10 percent and thlegal drinking age is 21; Katzenmoyer is 20.
He ended up serving three days in an alcohol-counseling program, had his driver's license suspended for 180 days and paid a fine of $300.
Moore, the team's leading tackler two years ago, said he wasn't concerned about being ineligible.
"We're all going to be all right," the senior free safety said. "I don't understand why people are making a fuss now. If we're not here Sept. 5, you all can get a free shot at all of us as much as you want. It's not a big deal. Everybody's going to make it."
Murphy, a 6-5, 300-pound junior, isn't worried about his grades.
"I'm going to be fine, absolutely fine," he said. "I'm doing the work in the classroom, I've talked to the teachers and they know I'm putting in the effort."
Katzenmoyer, who said he is growing tired of the spotlight, intends to use his latest problem as incentive.
"I think I react better when people doubt me," he said. "People doubted me coming in here. I think I had a pretty good freshman season. They're doubting me now and I'm going to be eligible. If you doubt me, I'll prove you wrong."
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