OSU stunned by arrest of third-string quarterback

By Rusty Miller

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State’s players usually congregate on Tuesday mornings to begin talking about their next opponent and game, in this case the Big Ten contest at Minnesota on Saturday night.

The discussion was different this time.

As the Buckeyes met at Woody Hayes Athletic Center, word spread that one of their own had been arrested on a misdemeanor charge accusing him of offering a female police officer $20 for sex the night before. Antonio Henton, the team’s third-team quarterback, was in the county jail when most of his teammates were finding out.

Most were stunned.

“He has great character, he is a great person,” said starting quarterback Todd Boeckman. “I couldn’t really see him doing something like this.”

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Safety Kurt Coleman echoed that sentiment.

“I’ve known Antonio for a long time,” he said. “I just don’t understand the whole situation so I can’t really speak on behalf of it, but the Antonio I know, he’s a great person and I’m always there for him.”

Henton, a 20-year-old redshirt freshman from Fort Valley, Ga., was suspended indefinitely from the team. Columbus police arrested him at 8:30 p.m. Monday just south of campus on a charge of soliciting for prostitution. He was jailed and then released after posting bond, entering a not guilty plea on Tuesday morning in Franklin County Municipal Court.

In terms of football, the loss of Henton is not a major setback. He had seen only spare playing time so far, although he was fourth on the team in rushing with a scant 41 yards. Joe Bauserman will climb up to third on the depth chart to replace him, behind Boeckman and backup Rob Schoenhoft.

Coach Jim Tressel said he would meet with the team before Tuesday afternoon’s practice and try to clear the air.

“We’ll tell them what we know – unfortunately, they hear things,” he said during his regularly scheduled Tuesday news conference. “We’ll address it first and foremost like we’re doing here and then move on.”

Tressel said he had yet to speak with Henton.

In Tressel’s first few years as the head coach at Ohio State, several players got into trouble ranging from disorderly conduct, underage drinking and passing fake in-house currency in a strip club to drunken driving, trafficking in marijuana, robbery, assault, felony drug abuse and carrying a concealed weapon.

Some players were disciplined and came back to play prominent roles for the Buckeyes. For example, quarterback Troy Smith was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct after a fight in a parking lot on campus in November 2003. He also was suspended from the team for two games for accepting $500 from a team booster in 2004.

Smith won the Heisman Trophy a year ago while leading the Buckeyes to a 12-1 record.

After numerous arrests from 2001 to 2005, there have been few if any legal problems for Ohio State football players over the past two years.

Ohio State (4-0) is a lopsided favorite against Minnesota (1-3). Coleman, a close friend of Henton’s, said he was concerned about Henton. He conceded the arrest could be a distraction for the team.

“It always could, but our team is one unit,” he said. “We’re definitely a family. I don’t think it will affect us.”

Whenever anyone on the team gets in trouble, it has an impact on the rest of the players, Tressel said.

“It can’t help but affect them,” he said.