Washington, O'Neal will sit out first two games of season

Updated: August 8, 2008, 12:49 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

Ohio State defensive backs Donald Washington and Jamario O'Neal have been suspended for the first two games of the season, the players told reporters Thursday at media day.

Multiple news outlets reported Thursday night that the players confirmed their suspensions but did not elaborate on the reason for punishment.

Ohio State spokeswoman Shelly Poe confirmed Friday that Washington and O'Neal were suspended, but did not give details.

Washington is a starting cornerback for the Buckeyes. O'Neal is a reserve at strong safety. The two will miss games against Youngstown State and Ohio before being allowed to return Sept. 13 at USC.

Both players were held out of portions of spring practice for undisclosed reasons. Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said only that they needed to "earn their car keys back."

The Buckeyes' secondary is already without Eugene Clifford, who transferred shortly after an assault arrest, and James Scott, who is not participating in training camp.

Washington has made 22 career starts, including all 13 games last year. He has 80 career tackles and an interception. Sophomore Chimdi Chekwa, listed ahead of Washington on the preseason depth chart, likely will start in his place against Youngstown State and Ohio.

Adam Rittenberg covers the Big Ten for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com.