STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Ohio State has encountered its first testing issue of the Big Ten season, this one coming with a false positive that will still sideline a veteran linebacker.
The Buckeyes don’t reveal any specifics about its COVID-19 results or injuries, but multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to Lettermen Row that Justin Hilliard had a rapid-response test come up positive after arriving at Penn State during its first road trip of the season. The senior was then given a second test, which was negative.
Hilliard still won’t be allowed to suit up for the Buckeyes against the Nittany Lions, but the suspected false positive will allow him to be on the sideline with his teammates and also means there are no concerns about him continuing to travel with the program. The Buckeyes have been meticulous about their protocols to try to avoid any of the outbreaks that have already popped up around the Big Ten after just one week of games, notably forcing a cancellation of the Wisconsin game scheduled today against Nebraska.
“It’s an ongoing deal,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said heading into the season. “This is going to go on for a while, and we have to continue to be vigilant in that area, not get fatigued with following all the protocols, doing what we have to do and making the sacrifices that have been made. That’s been everybody. And that’s not easy to do. It’s an emphasis every single day. I’ve made it my vow to the players that I’ll bring it up every single day.
“We talk about it every single day because it’s that important.”
The Buckeyes have now had their first in-season scare, and it will apparently cost Justin Hilliard a chance to help in a critical matchup against Penn State despite the fact that he ultimately tested negative.