Jay LaPrete, Associated Press
Ohio State's Luke Fickell coaches against Michigan State during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. Michigan State beat Ohio State 10-7.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The lawyer for four Ohio State players set to return from suspensions this week for accepting cash and free tattoos said Monday that the NCAA is questioning the eligibility of one of the players — and may extend his suspension.

Larry James, who represents tailback Daniel Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas, told The Associated Press that "probably we're talking about potentially one player as we speak that there's an issue around. But that's not finalized."

Ohio State Gene Smith has called a news conference for later in the day.

It's the latest troubling news in the Buckeye state for a program which has had its name sullied by NCAA violations, successful coach Jim Tressel forced to resign and star quarterback Terrelle Pryor leave for the NFL.

James would not confirm which player's eligibility the NCAA was questioning. The Columbus attorney said he was on his way to Ohio State to discuss the situation and added, "There are conversations taking place as we speak."

He said he had yet to speak to the players' parents and was not willing to concede that the player in question would be unable to play when the Buckeyes travel to meet No. 14 Nebraska on Saturday.

"I would say there are some issues around one player," he said. "Now, if the discussions ring true, there's that possibility (of an extended suspension). I'm not there yet. I'm not there based on what I know and what I have. I'm living in a different planet."

The five players have been practicing with the team and were expected to be cleared by the NCAA this week to play in the game in Lincoln, Neb. They have sat out the team's first five games for accepting cash and free or discounted tattoos in violation of NCAA rules.

Ohio State has had a total of six players suspended for the first five games, with two leaving school — including Pryor, a three-year starting quarterback. He gave up his senior season this summer to jump to the NFL. Now a member of the Oakland Raiders, he is currently suspended by the league which cited his NCAA problems in handing down its ruling.

Rusty Miller can be reached at http://twitter.com/rustymillerap