Ohio State defender Tyler Moeller will be on the field Thursday when spring practice begins, but a decision on his playing status likely won't come until late summer or early fall.
Buckeyes defensive coordinator Jim Heacock told ESPN.com on Tuesday that Moeller, who suffered a head injury after being assaulted last summer in a Florida bar/restaurant, will go through some running and individual drills this spring. Moeller played linebacker from 2006-08 but could be a factor at safety, a spot where Ohio State loses two multiyear starters (Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell).
"He's going to be running around and involved in 7-on-7 [drills]," Heacock said. "He's not going to get in any contact. We'll give him a chance to heal a little bit more and just make absolute certain that he's cleared and fine before allowing him to get into tackling."
Moeller suffered a subdural hematoma in the attack and underwent a procedure last August to relieve pressure. He sat out the entire 2009 season. The man facing felony battery charges for allegedly attacking Moeller is scheduled to stand trial June 2 in Florida.
Heacock said the 6-foot, 210-pound Moeller emerged from spring practice a year ago as one of Ohio State's top safeties and "could be a piece for us there." Senior Jermale Hines has locked up one starting safety spot, but the other is open, with sophomore Orhian Johnson and others in the mix.
Moeller could be the answer if he returns for games. But right now, it's still a big if.
"From what I understand, it's going to be more of a fall decision," Heacock said. "Let's see how he does, and if he keeps improving like he is now, that's going to be a decision for our doctors to see if he can get the clearance."