COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State’s football stadium went silent Saturday as an announcer called out the name of a missing football player while a police poster seeking information on his disappearance appeared on the scoreboard.
Kosta Karageorge was the last of 24 Ohio State players who were expected to play their final game at Ohio Stadium against rival Michigan. His family says he was last seen Wednesday.
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes went on to defeat archrival Michigan 42-28. After the game, an emotional coach Urban Meyer addressed the missing player.
“Our prayers and thoughts are with him and his family and to have him return home safe,” Meyer said.
Ohio State’s players were shaken by the 22-year-old Karageorge’s absence.
“He’s got a great personality, one of the favorite people I’ve ever met — just an interesting guy and a big heart,” said starting defensive tackle Michael Bennett. “We’re hoping he comes back soon.”
The stadium announcer said the entire university community was concerned about Karageorge and hoping for his safe return. Polite applause from among the 105,000 fans broke the silence at the end of the recognition.
His mother, Susan Karageorge, told authorities he has had several concussions and a few spells of being extremely confused, according to a police report. She said at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday he texted a message that cited the concussions and said, “I am sorry if I am an embarrassment.”
The player from Columbus was last seen at his apartment at around 2 a.m. Wednesday. Team spokesman Jerry Emig said Karageorge missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, which his family says was uncharacteristic.
Meyer said the Buckeyes have had an emotional week, not only playing their biggest rival but also losing star quarterback J.T. Barrett in the fourth quarter to a broken ankle.
“It’s one of those, all you can do is grab a knee and pray hard,” said Meyer, in his third year coaching the Buckeyes (11-1, 8-0 Big Ten, No. 6 CFP). “Not one person can make it through this kind of week. You need your strength. I know there were a lot of prayers on the team because there are a lot of guys who are friends of Kosta.”
Karageorge’s parents filed a missing-person’s report Wednesday night, listing him as white, 6-foot-5, 285 pounds, bearded and bald.
The team’s physician has said he cannot comment on the medical care of student athletes, but officials there are confident in their medical procedures and policies for returning athletes to participation in sports following injuries or illnesses.
The player’s sister, Sophia Karageorge, told The Columbus Dispatch that he apparently was upset, and roommates said he went for a walk, dressed in black from his hat to his boots.
“We’re very concerned that he’s not himself and that he maybe doesn’t know what’s going on,” she told the newspaper.
The former Buckeyes wrestler joined the football team as a walk-on this season.
“He was only with his us since August, so I didn’t know him that well,” Meyer said. “But I talked to his mom a few times. (The message for him) was just, ‘Come home safe, man.'”
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