COLUMBUS, Ohio ? The once-promising college career of Ohio State linebacker Mike D'Andrea has ended because of ongoing knee problems.
Coach Jim Tressel confirmed Thursday that D'Andrea would no longer try to play for the Buckeyes. D'Andrea, scheduled to graduate with a degree in consumer affairs in March, was not available for comment.
D'Andrea ? not future two-time All-American A.J. Hawk, who was recruited at the same time ? was considered the prize when he signed with the Buckeyes in 2002.
"He was big, strong, fast and explosive," Tressel said.
At 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, D'Andrea also had a mean streak that seemed to mark him as the next in a line of great Ohio State linebackers that includes Chris Spielman, Marcus Marek, Pepper Johnson, Randy Gradishar, Rick Middleton, Bob Brudzinski, Andy Katzenmoyer, Bobby Carpenter and Hawk.
D'Andrea was selected by numerous publications as the nation's best linebacker while totaling 140 tackles as a senior at Avon Lake High School outside Cleveland.
He worked his way up to second team behind Matt Wilhelm on Ohio State's 2002 national championship team, playing in 13 games, totaling seven tackles.
"He was everything we'd hoped he'd be," Tressel said. "A very instinctive football player. And that's why you feel so bad."
D'Andrea's next season, he rotated in and out of the lineup before separating a shoulder against Michigan State that kept him out of the final three games. He had 24 tackles.
D'Andrea hurt his right knee Sept. 24, 2004, in practice during the Buckeyes' bye week. He was never the same, playing in just seven games the past two years.
This season, he was penciled in as a backup, though most felt that anything he was able to contribute would be a bonus. The Buckeyes play Saturday against Northern Illinois with two sophomores and a fifth-year senior who hardly played last season starting at linebacker.
D'Andrea will undergo knee surgery within the next two weeks for "a better quality of life," Tressel said.