Monday briefing: Jordan Hall close to return

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The rehabilitation clock has expired, and medical clearance has officially arrived.

It still remains to be seen if Jordan Hall will be able to get back on the field after 10 weeks recovering from the surgery on the torn tendon in his foot.

Ohio State's senior running back will participate in two intense practices this week to prove that he's capable of providing a lift for a beaten-up backfield on Saturday against California, and coaches weren't ready at the start of game-week preparations to pencil him into the depth chart without seeing him work.

"There is a chance that Jordan could play this week," running backs coach Stan Drayton said Monday. "It’s a day-by-day thing, and he’s right at the end of his timeline for his rehab off that toe. You know, he has been somewhat cleared but we have to go off how he feels on a day-to-day basis. We’ll see.

"In his heart and with his mindset, he wants to go. If he can’t perform at close to 100 percent and help this team and not hurt the team, we’ll have to evaluate that at that time."

That deadline is likely going to be Wednesday after the second of Ohio State's two critical workouts, though a final decision might not come until Thursday.

That call won't be just about Hall, because Drayton, coach Urban Meyer and the rest of the offensive staff are also evaluating all of their options in the backfield with Carlos Hyde out with a knee sprain and true freshman Warren Ball out for the year after his own foot surgery. But Hall was the projected starter before his freak accident set him back physically, and the Buckeyes have some big plans for him on offense they no doubt would like to unveil.

"I don’t know [the status yet]. He’s going to run today and I’ll know more," Meyer said. "He was out there working a little bit yesterday, so there’s a chance."

Pitch count: The temptation to simply keep turning to quarterback Braxton Miller to lead the rushing attack might never go away.

Meyer is doing everything he can to protect the sophomore after a taxing, 27-carry workload in the win over Central Florida, but at the same time he's not ignoring how dynamic the player he inherited makes his offense.

"I mean, he is a hell of a football player, now," Meyer said. "If you really study the game with the copies we have, he delivers punishment, he goes hard, he’s a hell of a football player. I mean, I think a hell of a football player -- better than even everybody in this country thinks right now. That’s how good I think Braxton Miller is.

"But we’ve got to be smart. He got tattooed a little bit, and we’ve got to take care of him. That’s kind of the message I’m giving in my team meeting tomorrow. He’s made some mistakes too, now, but it’s a great problem to have -- hell of a football player behind center. Good problem to have."

Champions club: UCF designed its game plan to try to stop Johnathan Hankins and John Simon.

It kept them from getting any sacks, but it didn't prevent the standout defensive linemen from playing well enough to earn Champion status from the coaching staff in Ohio State's weekly tradition honoring the guys who graded out the highest on film.

Hankins earned the nod over Simon as the defensive player of the week for the Buckeyes, who only had two defensive players meet the top standard against the Knights.

Other Champions:

UAB kickoff: The conference confirmed another noon start time for the Buckeyes as they close out their nonconference slate on Sept. 22 against UAB.

The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.