Salley leaves football team to help Buckeye basketball

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 8, 2003

COLUMBUS -- Nate Salley's offseason lasted two days.

The Ohio State backup cornerback started practicing with the Buckeyes basketball team on Monday and plans to be in uniform Thursday night for the Big Ten opener at No. 25 Michigan State.

''I always had my mind set on playing both basketball and football in college,'' Salley said Tuesday after Ohio State announced his addition to the roster. ''It's been a dream of mine.''

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Salley, an 18-year-old freshman, played in all 14 football games for the national champion Buckeyes this season, seeing action behind cornerbacks Dustin Fox and Chris Gamble and also on special teams.

Perhaps inspired by his friend Gamble, who excels at both wide receiver and cornerback for the Buckeyes, Salley wanted to try his hand at being a two-way -- make that two-sport -- player.

''I always said I wanted to go at it all the way or not do it at all because I don't want to come back a few years from now and say 'Ah, I could have done this, I should have done that,''' Salley said. ''I don't want to have any coulda, woulda, shouldas.''

Basketball coach Jim O'Brien learned in Salley's recruiting visit last year that he also was interested in playing basketball.

But O'Brien said he had no contact with Salley during the football season and wasn't sure about his plans to play basketball until Salley showed up at practice Monday -- three days after Ohio State won the national championship by beating Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

O'Brien was impressed that Salley -- who played special teams in the 31-24 double overtime Fiesta Bowl victory -- only took Saturday and Sunday off before joining his new team.