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#4 Was Taken from Small

I was wondering why Ray Small was wearing #82 this season. I found this Article explaining why:
“There’s nothing figurative about Ray Small’s fall from grace — he wears it on his back.
As part of his punishment for a mystery transgression, the Ohio State receiver this spring was stripped of his No. 4 and given No. 82.

That hurts, much more than the physical conditioning Small has been forced to endure while his teammates have practiced the past few weeks.

“That would be hard,” teammate Brian Robiskie said. “You definitely wear your number with a lot of pride.”

It’s a very visible and public humiliation, almost akin to being put in the stocks in the town square in colonial times.

And it’s only the latest in a series of disappointments — some his fault, some not — suffered by Small, who came to Ohio State in 2006 with tremendous promise.

In hindsight, maybe Cleveland Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. was premature when he called Small “the best receiver I ever coached.” You might recall that Ginn’s son, Ted Jr., was a pretty fair receiver, and the comparison has haunted Small more than it has helped.

Small worked his way slowly into a crowded receivers picture in 2006 before suffering a concussion late that season. He then was disappointed to be relegated to the scout team in practice leading up to the national championship game.

In the days before that game, defensive lineman David Patterson raved about Small’s work simulating Florida sensation Percy Harvin.

“You guys mark my words … Ray Small is going to be the next great one at Ohio State,” Patterson said.

Last season, Small sat out the first two games because of a high ankle sprain, then had a serviceable year as the team’s No. 3 receiver. He had a touchdown catch of 48 yards against Northwestern and a 60-yard catch to set up a score against Penn State.

But he was disappointing as the lead returner on both punts and kickoffs.

Now entering his junior season, Small is in coach Jim Tressel’s doghouse. Tressel would not say why. Small has not been made available for interviews.

In the jersey scrimmage Saturday, Small rolled an ankle and hobbled off the field.

Receiver Brian Hartline said he is impressed that Small has not made a bad situation worse; that he’s keeping his head down and working hard.

“I give him credit. He knows he screwed up, but he’s doing what he has to do to get back,” Hartline said.

On Small losing his number, Hartline said: “It would definitely be tough. Your first reaction is probably the same reaction he had, but then after you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Why are they doing it?’

“It’s not like they’re picking on you, so either they want to get you going for a reason — they know you’re good, but they want to get you going — or they need to get you motivated.”

Clearly, the coaching staff is starting to lose patience. The jersey penalty was a sign that they’re switching from the carrot to the stick.

“I think he has really just scratched the surface,” receivers coach Darrell Hazell said. “I think his potential could be through the roof, but that’s yet to be seen. He’s been here for three years, and hopefully he can tap into it.””


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