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Ohio State football and basketball recruiting.

Tight End Dilemma at Ohio State

Max Power's picture
May 25, 2014 at 2:14pm
53 Comments

It's not time to scramble into our bomb shelters or fret that the sky is falling. However, I am a little concerned at the lack of interest that OSU receives from big time TE prospects. Sure, we find ourselves making the top 3 cut but the past few years we havent been able to get the signature when its all said and done.

Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett will be solid for us this season and have the talent to have a major impact in the passing game. But, how.many offseasons do we hear, "this is the year that the tight ends will have a breakout year." Heuerman has the talent and size advantage to be one of our top receivers this year. Urban even went as far as saying that Jeff and Nick could be the most talented tight ends he has ever coached. The season ended and we saw little production, yet again, from our tight ends. Quite baffling when you consider the times that Heuerman was actually targeted and the big gains that were a result. The Orange Bowl is a great example when #86 was open on the seam and we didnt go back to him. I don't know about everyone else, but I was praying that we would go over the top to him on play.action all night. It worked when we finally did, but his number didnt get called as much as it probably should.

Maybe the blame falls on Braxton for not going throughall his reads, but if our tight ends are as good as Coach Meyer alluded to, wouldn't the coaches make it a point to draw up a few plays in order to get the ball in their hands once in a while? It's this lack of involvement that is sending prospects to other programs. Playmakers at tight end want the ball, not being just another blocker in the run game.

Mike Gesicki, Chris Clark and Hale Hentges are all guys that the coaches recruited hard but cant't seem to close to deal (although the war isn't over with Clark and Hentges, it seems that its trending away from the good guys) Noah Brown could slid into the tight end and Malik Hooker might also be an intriguing addition to the spot with his athleticism. If Marcus Baugh can get his head on straight, he has the hands to be a good player in a year or two. However, these guys are more of the flex tight ends that are great in the passing game, but not as much when it comes to blocking. Having great hands in a tight end is fantastic, but in our run heavy offense we need tight ends who can handle a defensive end or linebacker when the ball gets bounced outside. This is where missing out on guys like Gesicki and Clark stings a little more. We need to sign guys who can catch but are also big enough to be a solid blocker as well. I look at the remaining prospects for OSU this year and most are hybrid tight ends (Miles Boykin, CJ Conrad for example).

Unfortunately for Ohio State, the only way to change the perception that the tight end is just a glorified lineman in Columbus is to produce on the field. (Don't think that other coaches aren't reminding prospective recruits about how little we throw to our TEs) Production can't be changed over night. It will take a season or two of good numbers for recruits to believe that they will actually get the ball in Columbus. Sure, Urban can show film on how essential Aaron Hernandez was to his offense at Florida or that Tom Herman relied heavily on his tight ends at Rice or Iowa State. The problem with that is when Hernandez played at Florida or when Herman was at Rice, current recruits were not even in middle school and surely were not paying alot of attention to college football. That is ancient history for them. They arent seeing a Urban or Hermans tight ends making big plays on Sportscenter. In order to change our luck recruting top notch tight ends, the playcalling must change first and that will take time.

Some may argue that this offense relies more on speedy wide receivers and running backs than it does on quality tight ends and that is probably true. But, to have a championship caliber team annually, no position can be neglected. I am not saying that Ohio State will be fielding walk ons or 1 star athletes at tight end, but we nees to sign some true tight ends in the upcoming classes or it will come back to haunt us. The coaches can't expect converted wide receivers to get down in a three point stance and properly block a defensive end on read option plays. We will always rely on the running game to set the tone for our offense. We can't expect to run the ball effectively without a true tight end on the field. Someone who can block as well as catch the ball and the past two recruiting classes have been missing that kind of player.

No, the sky is not falling. Urban will continue to reel in top 5 recruiting classes and will have OSU in the playoff discussion. I am concerned about the lack of quality tight ends coming to Columbus. In order to draw in top notch blue chippers, the coaches have got to show them that the tight ends will be utilized in our offense. The blame cannot be totally blamed on thr QB for not going through all hos progressions. The coaches are responsible for setting up their players for success. Sure, Braxton is going to pull the ball down and scramble for a 20 yard gain and that's fine. Thats who he is. However, that does not excuse the coaches for not drawing up a few plays for their tight ends, seeing as how the coaches rave about them. We are bringing in studs at every postion across the board. It's disheartening to see the Bucks come up blank at tight end. Its more important than most people give credit. Eventually, those blanks are going to creep up on us.

Is it September yet?

WesPatterson23's picture

Malik Hooker will play safety. He is not anywhere close to being big enough to play TE

+6 HS
BuckRock's picture

Well, looking at the stats of our tight ends the past couple years, and how very little they are targeted in the passing game.  I figure why not convert a Offensive lineman to TE.  Heck doesn't need good hands , cause we never throw to him.  Why waste a talented great athletic TE at a position that he is called the catch the ball once a game.  waste of talent and poor play calling.  OSU, needs to either throw the ball to the TE or just convert another offensive lineman to that position.  enough said...

+1 HS
Max Power's picture

Totally right. I had a brain fart. Meant to say Sam Hubbard. Im not sure why I said Malik Hooker

+2 HS
Jugdish's picture

Good summation of the tight end drama. I believe there are many more great TEs out there and Urb and company will snag one that will fit our scheme. It is still too early to get jitters over this.

Remember to get your wolverine spade or neutered. TBDBITL

+1 HS
kareemabduljacobb's picture

Jeff Heuerman had a breakout year last year...

Soph Yr:  8 rec 94 yards 1 TD

Last Season (Jr):  26 rec, 466 yds 4 TDs

And that's with only 3 games with more than 2 catches including 3 where he had 0.  I think he makes an even bigger leap this, his final season and finishes the year with something close to:  45 rec 650 yards 8 TDs.  Top 3 TE drafted in next years draft.

+2 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

Baugh will be fine, and don't forget about potentially adding Hausmann in 2016. Plus we have two more years of Vannett. And if we really get desperate, I'm sure Sam Hubbard wouldn't be a total disaster.

Also, while I don't blame CJ Conrad for getting mad at the staff not offering him, I also don't blame the staff for wanting to see him camp first. And I've heard we're going after Boykin mostly as a receiver but the staff is definitely open to having him play TE.

TL;DR: Don't worry, we're fine. Worst case scenario, we go into 2015 with Vannett and Baugh as our tight ends. Both of them have All-B1G potential.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

+1 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

~~Worst case scenario, we go into 2015 with Vannett and Baugh as our tight ends.

Actually, a worse case scenario is we go into 2015 and one of our two(2) scholarship TEs goes down with an injury, or has trouble with classes, or has run into some trouble with fighting, or drugs, or a dui, etc.  The worst case scenario is that something happens to both of them.  Buckeyes need(ed) to land a top TE prospect this year, one who could actually start as a freshman if either of the above scenarios were to take place.

+2 HS
Poison nuts's picture

Agreed. A TE is necessary for 2015 for sure. 

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+1 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

I meant purely from a depth perspective, it would suuuuuuuck if we went into 2015 with just two scholarship TE's (not counting the possibility of Noah Brown playing a hybrid WR/TE role), but we'd still have great talent there.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

TraSmith4's picture

All the young tight ends want to be like Gronk or Jimmy G. and neither one of them have a QB who runs for 1,000 yards. Pretty easy to see why they go elsewhere. Baugh and Vannett will be just fine in this offense after Heuerman leaves and if Heuerman puts up gaudy stats and gets drafted early then you might see a stud TE come to CBUS. 

Max Power's picture

When was the last time we had a TE drafted? Ben Hartsock? I honestly cant think of who it was. As far as a jr getting drafted, I cant see that happening again...unless Ricky Dudley reincarnate signs with us. TE isnt a strong position for us and there really is no excuse for that.

+1 HS
Rjpfish2's picture

Reid Fragel?   :)

+4 HS
countrybuckeye's picture

John Frank to 49ers in the 80s?

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

The staff needs to offer 4* Ohio kid CJ Conrad and try to rebuild the relationship from where they slow played him and didn't offer. IMO... The staff has been a little cocky thinking they can pull these elite TEs from across the country like they have these other recruits. The fact remains, our TEs haven't produced like other positions so it's making it a tough draw for the staff. 

Woodshed's picture

Conrad would say no thanks IMO.

especially if they offer without him camping. That would be admission that the staff was waiting to see what happened with other targets and wasn't honest about wanting to see him camp.

teddyballgame's picture
+2 HS
Woodshed's picture

Meh. For a TE? Biggest mistake they have ever made? OK.

+1 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

If he really thinks it was a mistake for OSU to not offer him, why not come to camp and show them how big of a mistake they made in the first place?

And people call Gibson entitled and diva-ish. Not saying Conrad is, but refusing to come camp for a top-tier program when you don't have any equivalent offers is kind of ridiculous to me. Makes no sense.

His best offers are UK and Virginia Tech. Does he deserve an OSU offer without camping? Hell no.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

+6 HS
Ludwig Yards's picture

I'm hearing the program may be disbanded following this mistake of such epic proportions. Hopefully that tweet was made in regards to another subject.

+4 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

BassDropper's response. XD

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I would consider signing to play football at UK the biggest mistake anyone ever made

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

+5 HS
buckeyeboy31's picture

you're right dude, how could anyone pass on a chance to camp at tOSU and possibly earn a scholarship offer when this is waiting for you

 

Max Power's picture

I feel the same way about the staff feeling a little cocky about being able to pull elite tes from across the country when OSU typically does not have alot of success recruiting the position. I can't blame CJ Conrad for telling the staff to shove it. They have slow played him too much. I hate seeing an Ohio kid get snubbed when they have the talent to warrant a better look. He may not be top 5 nationally, but IMO he is talented enough for the staff to keep in touch with him for a Plan B

+3 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I feel the same way about the staff feeling a little cocky

It's not like he had offers from every big school except Ohio State. His biggest offer was Va Tech.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+4 HS
BuckeyeJ's picture

Agree!!! And if he was a buckeye he would say yes on the spot and show the coaches he is a leader and work harder than anyone 

-2 HS
Jeremypreemo81's picture

I don't think we can pull an elite TE right now from anywhere.  Unfortunately we don't use the TE like some other schools.  Look at the two most recent big TE's we've had in the state of Ohio...Rudolph and Effiert-both from Cincy and went to ND bc they use the TE as downfield weapons.  I think we have a trio of nice TE's now and if we can use them the way we should be using them getting an Elite TE will be no problem in the future.  And I agree- it looks like he was snubbed which sucks bc he is from Ohio

+1 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Like Hayez said below, Bama uses the TE less than Ohio State. Despite that they have 6 TEs on their roster.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+1 HS
Jeremypreemo81's picture

That's very true but it's "Bama" their recent track record is a little better right now that's why they can stock pile recruits. But point noted Buckeyevstheworld

Ludwig Yards's picture

I don't think OSU recruits any differently at the TE position than they do at any other position. They go after the players they want the most, and they are going after guys they feel are those "next level" prospects. And as far as Conrad goes, OSU could have offered and chose not to. And if he chooses not to entertain any further overtures from OSU then that's his choice. Not the first time this has happened nor will it be the last.  

-1 HS
Hayze's picture

If Hentges goes to Alabama as expected it's not because of TE production.

Alabama has 6 TEs on the roster and they all had less receptions that ours did last year combined.

+3 HS
Ludwig Yards's picture

Yeah. Alabama is Alabama. They are on a different recruiting level than pretty much everyone else.

+3 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

and they all had less receptions that ours did last year combined.

According to a stat I just made up, catching one pass in the SEC is like catching 15 in any other conference.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+1 HS
teddyballgame's picture

I'm not understanding the CJ Conrad thing.  They wanted to see him camp in person and he wasn't interested... whos fault is that?

We never offered Conrad and neither has anyone else who plays real football.  Maybe he's not that good? 

+7 HS
Groveport Heisman's picture

Yea there was talk awhile back that we wanted him to camp to earn his offer and then we offered  a different TE without making him camp and CJ took it as a big slight and basically removed us from contention. I'll never consider it a loss if we miss out on a kid that doesn't want to show he is good enough in front of the coaches. Camp offers have a lot less chance of flaming out in my mind.

Mark my words..I don't need acceptance. I'm catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians.

+3 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

Miles Boykin is a much different kind of tight end than Conrad, so it's kind of dumb that offering Boykin is what put him over the edge. Boykin will probably end up as a big slot receiver instead of a pure TE like Conrad.

What's so bad about waiting until the summer and camping to show that you are worthy of an offer? I get that he was frustrated but look at guys in the past who came here and earned it. Guys like Darron Lee.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

+2 HS
JDunc686's picture

Not saying that the situations are exactly the same but maybe the staff pulls in Conrad late in the recruiting cycle, much like Brady Taylor last year.

+1 HS
WesPatterson23's picture

This may be out of the picture, but with 3 people in the SAM position, Sam Hubbard could move to TE eventually.

+4 HS
osu407's picture

I agree, particularly if we pull Hilliard, Baker, and Kilby (Hubbard may be as talented as any of them but the team needs trump the individual). All the linebacker spots would be so loaded with 2014 and 2015 recruits that tight end would be a great place for him. Also, we know that Meyer isn't opposed to switching which side of the ball players contribute (see Boren, Zach).  

osubuck57's picture

Hubbard is an option. We still have offers out to Jackson Harris and Boykin. I know many think Boykin will be a WR, but he's an option for TE as well.

Just for fun, looked on 247 to see what TE options there are, and there are many, many, if Urban decides to offer. Most 3 stars but still a few 4's. Wonder if Tyrone Wheatley Jr. will be as big a priority if UM does in fact sign Clark?  We also have Josh Moore I believe, visiting over the summer.

SCOTTC.

hetuck's picture

Don't overlook a TE transfer. No, I don't have a name in mind, but I never thought I'd see an Alabama center as a Buckeye either. Kids want to play and if they see an immediate opening on a title-contending team, they jump. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+1 HS
countrybuckeye's picture

Transferring to a different program to fill 'immediate' opening -- aren't there NCAA rules about that, on only specific cases do not have to sit a year?

hetuck's picture

Lindsay is a case in point. He graduated in four years and transferred with immediate eligibility. As to normal transfers, QBs do it all the time when an incumbent is in his final year. You redshirt and compete when the position is open. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

jamesrbrown322's picture

I think what this kid fails to see is the obvious - how many NFL TEs has UK produced? What are the odds that he is that productive without a good QB, especially when facing a schedule of teams that are vastly superior to UK every year? I think that if he had committed to VT and was bitter, it would make a little more sense. However, being willing to stick to UK despite interest from a superior program, with better academics, a better track record at the position, and a much better chance to win national, hell even conference titles, is silly and immature. However, he is 17, so immaturity is a given; and it is his choice, so I hope for his sake he made the right one.

"I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." - W.W. Hayes

-1 HS
SilverBullet-98's picture

There is a kid from a small school down by St.Clairsville thats supposed to be a CJ Conrad clone. Shadyside I think. Maybe he is scheduled to camp.

"The Past Builds the Future"

TheBadOwl's picture

Austin Dorris? I think there was an article on here about him. He's 6'5 220, plays QB, WR, and CB for his high school team IIRC. I'd love to see him come camp and get an offer.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

TraSmith4's picture

You guys are acting like Heuerman is no longer here that Vannett isn't a solid TE who can block and has decent hands and that Baugh wasn't an athletic freak at all the camps coming out of high school! I wouldn't get so down on this position because other TE's are choosing to go where pro-style offenses are being played! The cupboard here isn't empty and I'm sure there will be a good TE signing on the dotted line come next February.

Max Power's picture

The concern is not this year. If OSU strikes out and doesnt sign a TE in 2015 Vannett and Baugh will be the only tight ends on scholarship. Assuming there isnt a position change as Noah Brown will likely be a flex TE and Sam Hubbard could move there also since Darron Lee and Chris Worley have been solid this spring at LB. No sense in 3 freshmen playing the same position if one can fill a need elsewhere. I am not certain that a good tight end will sign thay dotted line on NSD. It didnt happen last year

Turtlebuster's picture

3 TEs doesnt sound like alot of depth to me but yes the concern isnt so much for this season but next when OSU loses Heuerman. I think in large part the fustration is because OSU is missing on the top targets at this position...lost both Brenneman and Gesicki to PSU, Hentges to Bama and looks as though Clark is heading elsewhere...those are  4 of OSUs top TE targets over the last few seasons. OSU will land a good TE this cycle no doubt, but odds are it wont be one of the guys they have on the top tier. Combine this with the fact that OSU recruiting has the momentum of an anvil right now and alot of the guys going off the board were at one time OSU "leans" or at least ones alot of insiders had predicted in this class. Bama's class will fill up faster now as spots become a premium while OSU targets can wait it out because, well...there is plenty of room ...

Ahh Saturday's picture

While there are certainly schools that have featured their TEs more centrally than OSU, particularly in the recent past, many people are discounting what was actually a very productive year in '13 for Jeff Heuerman.  His 466 receiving yards were good for 14th in the country among TEs last year, and his 17.9 ypc was THE highest among all TEs, showing that OSU is willing to use the TE as a downfield threat.  While I agree that JH was underutilized last year, our TE was still a central and productive part of our offense.  The fact that this message cannot break through even on this board makes me wonder how hard it is for the staff to get that through to recruits.

HotSauceCommittee's picture

I think a big issue with this is nearsightedness on the part of these kids and the media and probably us fans as well. What I mean by this, and the same goes for WR recruits, is that Brax is the face of the franchise. Brax is still a playmaker moreso than a QB. TE and WR want a QB. Nothing against Brax because he is great, but I think once we get a passing QB in place this trend will start to dissolve.

+1 HS
ab1993's picture

I don't see why people say we can't recruit elite TEs. Marcus Baugh was #3 TE in 2013... It's not like there's an abundance of elite TE prospects. 

Class of '16

+2 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

Not to mention Vannett and Heuerman in 2011 and Blake Thomas in 2012, who was a 4-star.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

Max Power's picture

I dont think anyone is saying that OSU cannot or has never signed an elite tight end prospect. Sure, we got Thomas in 2012 but he got injured and we had to move JT Moore from DE to provide depth. Since then we have only signed one true tight end, albeit a good one. My concern in the lack of quality depth and the consistency in which we recruit. No other position on the team takes a two year hiatus without reloading with some good players. We whiffed totally on the position last year and our top guys this year are looking elsewhere. I understand that Hausmann is a great player and we will probably land him. Im just not comfortable with the idea that when he comes in as a freshman, the only other tight end (excluding flex tight ends) will be a redshirt jr. If we are going to be a perenial championship team, every position on the team must have quality depth. A flex tight end cannot do an amicable job blocking a linebacker or DE on read option plays IMO.