Moeller ending long career with Buckeyes


Ohio State linebacker Tyler Moeller (26) tackles Ohio wide receiver Riley Dunlop (15) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Columbus, Ohio. (The Associated Press/ File)

Published: Friday, December 30, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 30, 2011 at 12:05 a.m.

JACKSONVILLE — If it hadn't happened, he wouldn't be in Jacksonville today getting ready for the Gator Bowl game against Florida.

“That's true,” said Tyler Moeller. “But I'd probably be making some money somewhere.”

The Ohio State linebacker is in his sixth year at the school, receiving a special exemption from the NCAA partly because of what happened on July 26, 2009.

Moeller was in Tampa celebrating his grandparents' anniversary that night when an individual found out he was an Ohio State player. Words were exchanged and, according to published reports, he was punched by Ralph Decker.

Moeller fell to the ground and hit his head. He suffered severe brain trauma and had to have surgery to relieve the pressure.

Decker went to prison after being convicted of a felony. Moeller missed the whole season and had a nasty zipper scar on his head. His situation will remind Gator fans of the Brandon McArthur story. The Florida baseball player also missed a season after suffering severe brain trauma after being punched in Gainesville.

“I don't think about it at all,” Moeller said. “The only time I think about it is when he goes back to jail, and they send me papers asking me how I feel about it.

“Forgive and forget, I guess.”

Moeller also missed much of the 2010 season with a pectoral injury and was granted a sixth year of eligibility because of the unusual circumstances.

Moeller has bounced back to record 44 tackles this season with two tackles for a loss. On Monday, he will finish his Ohio State career against Florida.

“Last year, I was ready for it to be the last season of my career,” he said. “You always want to finish good. We can wash some things away, so to speak.”

Because this is his sixth year, Moeller is also the only player in this game who was around the last time these two teams played. Florida beat Ohio State in the 2006 national title game.

“I was redshirting that year,” he said. “I remember being really excited, and then we got our butts whipped.”

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