Thursday, October 2, 2003

Underwood could be out rest of season

Ohio State notebook

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

E.J. Underwood, an Ohio State backup cornerback from Hamilton High, could miss the rest of the season because of a cut he suffered on his right thumb Friday.

The cut severed a tendon and a ligament in his thumb, father Elmer Underwood said. The player required extensive emergency surgery.

"There is a chance he could come back," Elmer Underwood said. "The doctors are shooting for him to play by the Michigan game (Nov. 22)."

Underwood, a sophomore, could not apply for a medical redshirt because he played in four games. He has four tackles this season.

Underwood played in all 14 games last season, starting two, and finished with 21 tackles.

Elmer Underwood said the surgery was successful and that his son is expected to make a complete recovery. He said E.J. is back in classes this week and will begin therapy on the thumb next week.

E.J. Underwood was not available for comment, and coach Jim Tressel has declined to offer details. Elmer Underwood said the injury was "an accident," and his son is keeping his spirits up.

"He understands and accepts this," the father said. "The doctors have put this (recovery) in E.J.'s hands. He's always been a workaholic, so he'll try to get back this season."

Underwood's brother, Brandon, a Hamilton senior cornerback, has committed to play for the Buckeyes.

CLARETT RULING SOUGHT: Lawyers for Maurice Clarett and the NFL met Tuesday in New York. Clarett's attorney, Alan C. Milstein, said the two sides set a timeline for legal briefs to be filed, and that U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said she hoped to rule by Feb. 1 on the suspended OSU tailback's lawsuit against the league.

February is when the NFL scouting combine is held, in advance of the NFL draft in April. Clarett is challenging the NFL's rule that a player must be out of high school three years to be eligible for the draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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