Some off-field issues have forced the Colonels to make some significant lineup changes heading into Saturday’s season opener at Purdue.
Senior center O.J. Enabosi and sophomore wide receiver Jaucady Rutledge have been ruled academically ineligible and will not play this season. Justin Williams, a junior wide receiver, has also had some academic problems and even though he still remains eligible to play he has slipped down the depth chart and may not see action against Purdue.
The loss of Enabosi is a major blow to an offensive line that was expected to be one of the better units in the Ohio Valley Conference.
The senior had started 22 of the past 23 games at center for the Colonels. Enabosi was a First-Team All-OVC performer last season and a preseason All-OVC selection this season.
EKU had three offensive linemen receive preseason All-Conference honors — Enabosi, Patrick Ford and Aaron Adams.
“It’s been tough without O.J., but I think we’ve got capable guys stepping in,” Ford said. “So, we’ve tried a few different combinations to see what will work best. I think even in the game we are going to rotate some guys at guard.”
Dustin Crane, a sophomore from Marion County, is listed as the starting center in this week’s game notes. He missed all of last season with an injury and was redshirted in 2010.
Austin Jaggers, a 6-foot-2, junior transfer from the College of Mount St. Joseph, is listed as the No. 2 center on the depth chart.
Last season, the Colonels led the OVC in rushing attempts (530), while averaging 196 yards a game on the ground.
Rutledge had just nine catches last year, but was expected to play a bigger role in what is not really a very deep group of receivers.
Tyrone Goard (39 catches), Cameron Bailey (29 catches) and Matt Lengel (14 catches) are all back, but no other returning receiver, besides Williams, had more than five catches last year.
Williams had 14 catches for 193 yards and one touchdown last season.
Ike Ariguzo, a junior transfer from the Air Force Academy, and true freshman Jeff Glover are listed as the backup receivers in the latest depth chart.
“There are question marks, but they are big question marks,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “About 6-foot-4 (Glover) and 6-foot-5 (Ariguzo). When we made a commitment to run the ball last year, we really started looking at a different kind of wideout. Rather than having a bunch of slot guys, we are going to pack it in and run and hopefully get some one-on-ones on the perimeter. We wanted to get some big guys on the outside.”