Ohio State captain and St. Ignatius grad on season-altering injury and lingering losses to Michigan

ohio state captain and st. ignatius grad on season-altering injury and lingering losses to michigan

Former Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg said he has fully healed from the dislocated elbow which ended his final season as a Buckeye.

INDIANAPOLIS — After a few months of reflection, Tommy Eichenberg could thank Ohio State football coach Ryan Day.

The second-year captain did not want to sit out senior day, regardless of the status of his dislocated left elbow. “Almost a fistfight,” Day called it. Eichenberg may have recognized that as the prudent call back on Nov. 18. By his Tuesday interview at the NFL combine, he could admit it.

“I just wanted to be out there,” Eichenberg said. “I hated sitting. I hated missing games. I was a captain. I didn’t want the guys to see me not playing or practicing.

“So that was very tough. But I thank coach Day. I literally — I could not play.”

Eichenberg revealed the diagnosis for the first time at his podium at the combine. He suffered the dislocation in the fourth quarter of the Nov. 4 win at Rutgers. It cost him the next two games and the Cotton Bowl against Missouri. In between he started against Michigan in his final chance to play The Game.

“I didn’t even think twice about it,” Eichenberg said. “I came back (for another year) to play this game.”

He said the elbow has fully healed now as he prepares to go through all of the combine workouts. He hopes to show teams he can play in space and hold up in coverage in addition to film work that shows he can be at least a two-down back in the NFL.

While three months helped him come to terms with missing senior day, the internal wound of ending with a three-game losing streak to Michigan may never heal. Eichenberg arrived in 2019. As a redshirt freshman, he watched the Buckeyes extended their own winning streak in The Game to eight.

Ohio State has not beaten its rival since. Michigan rose to another level in that period — culminating in an undefeated national championship this past season. Eichenberg agreed with that improvement as a statement of fact. He did stumble, slightly, perhaps stopping himself short of referencing the illegal scouting accusations against the Wolverines: “I don’t want to say anything stupid.”

In the end, the emotions of the rivalry betray logic.

“I felt like I’d let down so many people — especially being a captain,” Eichenberg said. “That’s the standard is winning that game. It’s very hard for me. But you gotta keep moving forward.”

For Eichenberg that means moving on to the NFL, where his brother, Liam — a fellow St. Ignatius grad — has played offensive line for the Dolphins since 2021. Big brother kept his advice simple and succinct.

“He’s like, ‘You love football — be yourself and you’ll be alright,’” Eichenberg said.

©2024 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit cleveland.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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