On the heels of the dismissal of Tyler Thomas, Oregon St. head Coach Mike Riley had to announce today the end of two defensive linemen's playing careers. Junior defensive tackle Tonu Tuimalealiifano and senior defensive end Mitchel Hunt have both had to hang up the gear, due to knee injuries.
Tonu T. and Hunt both players went to extraordinary lengths to try and keep playing football, according to Riley.
"They worked hard to get back, to give it another shot. But eventually they kind of came to their own conclusion. … truly, this is kind of a lifetime decision."
Both players will retain their scholarships, staying at Oregon St. this year, and help out any way they can. They remain good standing members of the team, just unable to play.
Hunt has undergone two surguries, and though Tonu has only had one, his was a microfracture surgery, after a significant injury.Riley said Oregon St. will appeal to the NCAA the possibility of doing something with at least one of the scholarships. By rule, once camp starts, players can't be replaced, even those that are out for medical reasons, for a year. The NCAA can allow an additional scholarship over the limit on appeal, however.
In that case, OSU can immediately grant an additional scholarship. Oregon St. may find out in a few weeks, in which case Riley can "reward'' a walk-on senior that will graduate.
"If I can get that done,' it would be great.''
Riley emphathized with both players' unfortunate injuries.
"Nobody tried harder. Both of them were really, really tremendous rehab guys."
Riley also addressed the Thomas situation.
"Now the other thing, it's totally wasted. It's a tragic thing, and we can't make rhyme or reason to bad decisions sometimes. ... we like every program, continually talk about those choices that you make.
I said it Saturday afternoon when we broke camp; somebody across America tonight in a college football camp, coming out with their first night off of camp, is going to make a decision that changes their life. And then I had to tell the team last night that it happened to our team. ... I hate it, but it was not a hard decision.
Somebody did indeed change the course of their life. We just hope it's not a life sentence."
The loss of defensive players further increases the likelihood that true freshman Scott Crichton will be in the rotation at defensive end.