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.
This just in from the Columbus Dispatch.