Tight Ends, Cornerbacks on the Rise

By Kyle Rowland on April 3, 2014 at 7:43p
65 Comments

In August, the “this will be the year of the tight end” conversations will begin. It’s a tradition unlike any other, making the Masters seem mundane and lacking history. But there’s reason to believe Ohio State will utilize the tight end more frequently than it has in a decade.

Senior and captain-to-be Jeff Heuerman was the team’s third-leading receiver a year ago, hauling in 26 receptions for 466 yards and four touchdowns. No. 1 on that list – Philly Brown – is gone. Aside from Devin Smith, Heuerman is the only other proven effective pass-catcher.

But spring has sprung at tight end. Heuerman’s injuries – nose and foot – have given Nick Vannett and Marcus Baugh an opportunity to showcase their skills. Each has impressed coaches, teammates and attendees at practice. Baugh in particular is an intriguing due to his checked past, which includes multiple run-ins with police in less than a year on campus.

“We have some depth at tight end,” head coach Urban Meyer said this week. “It’s a very talented group and a group you’ll see get more and more involved.” 

Notes: 

  • “I’ll take our two tight ends [Heuerman and Vannett] over anyone in America. …”Nick Vannett’s had an excellent spring. He’s one of the two or three most improved players on the team.” –Meyer
  • Vannett said he’s taken it as a challenge to get better with Heuerman out with a foot injury. It’s his redshirt junior year now and Vannett believes it’s time he steps up his production.
  • The offensive is still finding its identity. Vannett said it’s not easy to find replacements for Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown in a few weeks of spring drills.
  • Cardale Jones has grown up tremendously, according to Vannett. He said Jones is taking charge of the offense and throwing accurate balls.
  • Vannett said the tight ends room is not a selfish group. There’s competition, but each guy is helping out the others.
  • Tim Hinton said he isn’t too concerned about Heuerman’s absence the final two weeks of spring practice. For a senior, the reps aren’t a huge loss. More than anything, Hinton said Heuerman will miss out on conditioning.
  • During leadership meetings, Hinton said Urban Meyer always comes up with a phrase or term that makes you go deep into thought.
  • Marcus Baugh is a very athletic tight end, Hinton said. His off-field troubles have resulting lessons being learned. Hinton said he’s growing from his past mistakes.
  • Doran Grant said it’s obvious there’s youth in the secondary. He’s taken it as his que to step up his leadership.
  • The cornerbacks are making a lot more plays on the ball and every snap of the spring has been done in press coverage, Grant said.
  • Armani Reeves, Gareon Conley and Eli Apple are three cornerbacks that have impressed Grant and Kerry Coombs. Coombs said the cornerbacks will rotate this season. The style of play calls for having more than two guys.
  • Reeves is starting opposite Grant.
  • Grant said Ohio State has to get back to being a Silver Bullet defense. 
  • Coombs said he believes Cameron Johnson could be one of the best punters in the country. But there’s been issues with the place-kicking. Walk-on Kyle Clinton is pushing Sean Nuernberger for the starting job. Coombs said the biggest problem has been the number of missed kicks.
  • There’s a new long snapper, holder and kicker. It always takes a while to get the timing down. Coombs said Nuernberger has been overwhelmed at times.
  • Stephen Collier was the last player to leave the field, a good hour after the rest of the team. He was throwing passes to an unidentified wide receiver. 
65 Comments

Comments

Kingbuck12's picture

I was waiting to hear good news about Apple and Conley. Time for those high stars to start playing. I think they become the starters before seasons end. 

Kingbuck12

+1 HS
Jdadams01's picture

Maybe one of them, but neither of them will pass Grant. 

+7 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Well, one of them maybe. We want Doran Grant out there, he's a beast and poised to be one of the D's best players.

Edit: You beat me to the punch!

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+2 HS
CGroverL's picture

Great reference to "Caddyshack"...... "big hitter, the Lama, long....into a 10,000 foot crevice right at the base of this glacier....."

Grant is definitely a NEED and not a want. He has the most experience really on a unit that got torched. Being that he can cover and tackle at close to 195 pounds, he should get a lot of tackles as well after he pushes the opposing team's #1 WR around a bit. Grant, to me, is the KEY to the DB's especially now that Bell has gotten hurt.....We NEED for the DB's to play tight as I can see opposing QB's rushing their throws because of this "revamped" DL with Washington inside and the talk of a 9 man rotation. It will be nice if all works out like the coaches are talking.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

Seattle Linga's picture

Watching this video gets me so geeked for spring ball.

sivaDavis's picture

The cornerbacks are making a lot more plays on the ball and every snap of the spring has been done in press coverage, Grant said.

YES!!!!!

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+9 HS
DoubleB's picture

Best sentence of the entire article.

Because I couldn't go for 3.
-Woody

+2 HS
Buckifan4Life's picture

What's press coverage? Is that some new technique? I don't think I've seen that, but I remember screaming at the television for something like that for at least the last 5 years.  :/

CGroverL's picture

I know!!!! I have been screaming, too. I thought that the coaches were afraid of bringing the CB's up tight. It makes a difference, slows down the passing routes, and allows DE's and LB's to get their hands on passes, too. It seems we used to get a lot of picks after a DE or LB got his mitts on the pass. That has been gone from the defense for a long time as the opposing WR's have been allowed to run whatever they want it seems. On top of it all, it makes the Buckeye defenders "out of place" and that has been possibly the biggest problem with the LB's. A bump to the WR here and there can work wonders.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

BassDropper's picture

I like the idea of Reeves at nickel and Conley at CB...but I wonder what happened to Cam Burrows? I don't like Reeves as a CB, but he probably wouldn't make a bad safety, ala Christian Bryant.

DIRECTIONER

MacG91's picture

Burrows is playing Bell's safety spot. 

Mac..yeah

+3 HS
Nappy's picture

The cornerbacks are making a lot more plays on the ball and every snap of the spring has been done in press coverage, Grant said.

Good.  If you're going to get beat, get beat by being aggressive 

Fan of bacon since 1981

+3 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture

Agreed. Very happy to hear oir DBs are pressing.
Also, this is good practice for our WRs as well.

+4 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Something I didn't think about before, but excellent point, Chief! Our receivers last year were used to practicing against that loose coverage. They were equally unprepared for playing against a defense that could press and had the athletes to do it well.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+3 HS
Kingbuck12's picture

Yes Cam Burrows is a stud. I forgot about him. In the little action he got last year, he looked great. 

Kingbuck12

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Getting better every day!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hovenaut's picture

Good updates, like what I'm reading.

Armani Reeves included...step up young man.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

+5 HS
TheSpiteHouse's picture

Hopefully the placekicker situation gets sorted out. That is tough fighting for a starting placekicking job as a freshman.

+1 HS
WhySoSerious's picture

Press coverage = made my day!

Rare&Uncommon

Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Young Stephen Collier working late after practice: a great sign.

+5 HS
sarasotabcg's picture

I lost interest when Kyle inferred that Devin Smith was an effective pass catcher.

-10 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I lost interest when you implied that he isn't.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+5 HS
sarasotabcg's picture

let's see now.....

When we need a spectacular catch, Devin's our man. When we need a routine catch, not so much. The guy caught a total of 9 passes in the last 6 games of last season. And 40% of his production for the season came in the 1st 3 games (Buffalo, SDSU, Cal). In the bowl game vs. Clemson, he had 2 catches for 5 yards.

For some people, I guess these stats constitute a reliable playmaker.

+7 HS
Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Can't argue with stats. I like the factual argument you made. I'm hoping for C. Smith, Greene, and Thomas to step up on the outside this year. 

 

+3 HS
chirobuck's picture

I like Devin's skill set but he was really disappointing last year....I was really expecting a break out year and im still not sure exactly why it didn't happen

 
^ best post ever ^

+1 HS
whobdis's picture

Some of this has to be on Braxton..guys can't catch the ball if they aren't thown too. I thought Braxton regressed a bit near the end of the season and was back to waiting for guys  to get wide open before throwing the ball. You watch Boyd in the bowl game and he was throwing to guys that had some decent coverage. Of course having Sammy Watkins helps. Having all this new talent at the wr position will do nothing until Braxton makes this next step imo

 

+3 HS
sarasotabcg's picture

I agree that a QB plays a role in a WR's production.

However, in the same bowl game that Devin caught 2 passes for 5 yards, Philly Brown caught 8 for 116. Considering Devin's lack of production going into the game, it's not like the Clemson DB's were trying to take Devin out of the game with double coverage or rolling safeties his way. He just disappeared out there.

And 9 catches over 6 games are what we should expect from a backup WR, not a starter.

I don't see what's so controversial about saying Devin isn't an effective WR, especially when the facts back it up.

 

IGotAWoody's picture

You can't catch balls that aren't thrown to you. You can blame many factors, the play-calling, the effectiveness of the QB, the effectiveness of the pass blocking, the ability of the receiver to get open, etc. And while you are correct that Devin has occasionally dropped some routine balls, that was not the case in the last 3 games (I'm not concerned about the Indiana, Illinois or Purdue games). He was not thrown to. Is some of that his inability to get open? That would take some dedicated replay watching and analysis to determine, but your original comment just flat out dismissed Smith in a rude way that I don't take kindly to. And by the downvotes you generated, I'd say there's a handful of people that also didn't like the statement.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

sarasotabcg's picture

ha! You getting offended doesn't make Devin an effective WR nor does it make me wrong. The fact that 40% of his season production happened in the 1st 3 games shoots down your arguments, especially when Philly didn't see the drop off in production. Braxton was throwing to both of them.....

Don't believe me? Maybe you'll believe Urban. How many links do you want relating to how inconsistent Devin's been?

Urban Meyer on what he needs from Devin Smith: "Consistency is probably the term that's most appropriate with him. Just consistency all the way through because he a great kid and just incredibly talented... I wouldn't say he's not performed well. He's a guy that's not maximized as a football player yet."

http://www.cantonrep.com/article/20140102/Sports/140109882

http://espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/98364/devin-smith-looks-to-add-...

 

IGotAWoody's picture

I didn't say I got offended, I said your comment was a dick move. Big difference.

I'd love to see your original comment spoken directly to the player - I'm guessing you wouldn't have the guts to tell Devin Smith, "I lost interest when Kyle inferred that Devin Smith was an effective pass catcher."

Lastly, it's not that your comment was way off-base, it's that it was dismissive. The way you say something is just as important as what you say.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

sarasotabcg's picture

I don't have to tell Devin Smith that he's been inconsistent because he already knows it. Urban has said as much publicly (which is why I'm wondering why in the heck you've been debating this), so I'm pretty sure both Urban and his position coach have let Devin know their feelings privately.

 

-1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

But that's not what you said. If you had simply said, "Devin Smith is inconsistent", you would've had 10 upvotes or more, instead of 10 downvotes. I really shouldn't need to explain this, but apparently I do.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

sarasotabcg's picture

I said I lost interest when Kyle referred to Devin Smith as an effective WR. He's not. Urban's comments back that point up, and so do the facts.

As for DV's, go ahead and worry about being popular and I'll worry about being right.

this exchange has boiled down to me providing factual info and supporting links; your response has basically been 'you're a jerk'. interesting exchange to say the least.

-1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

You are pathetic. However, if you're takeaway from this is "you're a jerk", then so be it.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

sarasotabcg's picture

and now with the personal attacks. As if I needed any further validation that this debate is over.... Thank You!

-1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

So sad. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. Buck up little camper, maybe someone else, somewhere else, will tell you they like you and that everything you say is great.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

sarasotabcg's picture

?

You keep bringing up downvotes. Apparently you need validation from others. I could care less.

Your argument is so weak you had to stoop to personal attacks, which, as the saying goes, is the last bastion of a weak mind.

I argue that Devin Smith isn't an effective WR. I provided quotes, links, and facts. You disagree apparently. It might be a good idea for you to start providing factual information to support your opinion. Or you could go back to personal attacks if that makes you feel better.

-1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I thought you said the debate was over? BTW, I didn't "stoop to personal attacks", I repeated your assessment of what I was saying. Your words, dude, not mine.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

sarasotabcg's picture

calling someone pathetic doesn't qualify as a personal attack?

that makes as much sense as saying 9 catches in 6 games = an effective WR.

I notice you still haven't passed along any factual information to support your opinion that Devin Smith is an effective WR.

-1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Clearly, your feelings are hurt. Truly, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were so sensitive.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

sarasotabcg's picture

I copied this exchange to another site. the responses are classic.

congrats. you're gonna be famous.

-1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Yeah, yeah, blahdy blah. Your tactics are so classic, and by classic, I mean cliche'. You copied this exchange to another site? Who gives a crap?

 

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

CGroverL's picture

I'm not throwing blame around but.....I read a stat after last season where Miller's completion percentage was being talked about. Miller had his BEST season in 2013 at 63.5%. However, afterwards the writer took into effect the number of throwaways because of having no receivers open and "on-target" dropped passes and with those numbers taken away, Miller's completion percentage neared 80%. I'm not trying to say that Braxton Miller is one of the nation's top polished passers as every QB's comp. pct. takes a drop because of throwaways and dropped passes but with the small number of passes that Miller threw (255)... a few drops, and a few GOOD throwaways can really make your completion percentage drop far. Sorry...I have no idea where I read the stat, but I thought it was here and I can't find it.

I know that Philly Brown had back to back 60 catch seasons, but I HAVE to believe that game plan and receiver's abilities have more to do with the poor passing game than Miller's throws. Regardless, even though Brown is gone, my guess is that Miller will finally throw for around 75% this season as I see a lot of shuffle passes and hopefully some well executed screen passes padding his stats. He's never had the luxury of a decent screen pass....THIS IS SURELY THE YEAR FOR IT. It is his last chance to become a QB and not just a runner. Plus, the new playmakers can turn screens into BIG PLAYS for our side for once.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

+1 HS
Brandon26841's picture

He's never had the luxury of a decent screen pass....THIS IS SURELY THE YEAR FOR IT

 Really? It seems like about 75% of his completions last season were quick WR screens to the outside. He threw a ton of short, easy screen throws that inflated his completion %, but he also threw a bunch of inefficient deep throws that hurt his completion %. I'm just hoping there's SOME kind of intermediate passing game this season instead of 1. Quick Screen 2. Quick Screen 3. Deep ball.

CGroverL's picture

Maybe this is where the difference lies...... To me, a decent screen pass would involve Miller getting the snap. taking a few steps to the left (looking like a QB run left), then turning to throw to his RB with 2 or 3 O-Lineman in front of them as they scamper downfield. Those quick screens to the WR always seemed to end with the first defender tackling the WR. It seemed that no WR could break a tackle. I'd like to see screen passes to the RB's with 2 corn fed 300 pounders leading the way for a guy that can run a 4.4 40 choosing which way to make that 4 yard play into a BIG PLAY.

I know....I'm asking a lot, maybe....

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

DC-town's picture

Glad to hear Coombs giving apple some props- he'll definitely get a shot this year, as he's on the two deep unless Damon Webb balls from day one.

Conley sounds like he'll be fighting reeves for the #2 spot, but they'll all play.  I like all the guys in the secondary- will make mistakes early but that's the trade off of playing  aggressive- go bucks

'Piss excellence' -RB

+2 HS
lwitters's picture

There is already competition for the starting CB and safety spots.  With the batch of secondary players we have coming in the fall, looks like the secondary could go from liability to tremendous asset in two seasons.  Impressive stuff.

CGroverL's picture

Chimdi Chekwa kinda went from zero to hero over the course of one off-season...maybe the entire unit can do it.  The DB's, as a group, do have one thing going for them; For the most part they can all tackle well and a few are hard hitters as well. It is possible to get a few extra BIG PLAYS from the unit with maybe a dozen picks and a few fumbles as is. Once they mesh with the rest of the unit, they could be a team strength....I can see it as a possibility especially if the LB's play better.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

CC turned out to be a very special player in the end.

ODEEZ330's picture

Really excited for doran grant next year he was good last year cept for a play or 2 in the losses. Hope Reeves steps it up if he's gonna be starting. Lot of most improved players from meyer lol

O'Deez330
stark county football

+1 HS
MikeEagleBuckeye's picture

Really impressed by that bit about Collier.  He keeps that up and he could go places.

+4 HS
rkylet83's picture

I have a great feeling about Collier.  From day 1 he has been all business, and putting in the work.  Imagine what year 3 will look like!

 

GabrielBuckeye's picture

I'm really hoping one of the young pups (Webb, Conley, Apple) supplant terrible Reeves. The dude is burnt toast.

-2 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

well if we are going to include Webb, I think we should also include Marshon Lattimore too. I think he would be just as likely to get some PT as well.

although I do see one of them getting the redshirt because its just a great idea to do so. I would love to see all these guys get on the field but someone needs to develop while the others play.

but I do agree that Reeves really was out of his element last year. He is talented enough, hopefully he gets the position down more. I thought he was a great addition late in 2012, but then again I thought the same for Cam Williams and he hasn't lived up to it either.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Really encouraged by all the position battles going on and the added depth. Our passing game HAS to take that next step if we're going to get back to Indy.

And even though I've never met the guy, I am SO proud of Marcus Baugh. That's how you bounce back from adversity. Don't let it ruin you young man. Stay on the right path. I'd say watching Baugh, the battle for the starting RB spot, Dixon and Kwon are what I'm looking forward to the most for the Spring Game.

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

cantonbuck's picture

It's time to stop bashing Armani Reeves. Everyone knows he struggled last year. It was the first time he saw the field outside of special teams. It happens.

Maybe some of it had to do with scheme. He was listed as a fast and physical corner coming out of HS. Scout lists strengths as toughness and jamming ability (tough to jam when your lined up 10 yards off LOS).

We have him for two more years and the coaches like him. Plus he was much improved in the bowl game.

Go Bucks!

+6 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

I do agree that the style of play was hazardous for any corner. 10 yards off with a soft zone and only 3 pass rushers was the dumbest game play ever! Reeves could be a lot better with a press man, some pro corners are like that too.

but I will say he was rough to watch last year and needs to progress or he will get passed up.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

tussey's picture

I was thinking the exact same thing. That it is possible that the reason why he struggled is because he is a man press corner, not a zone off corner.  Thanks for confirming me initial thought with some facts on facts

Him1stftballl8er's picture

I agree about the Reeves bashing. Reeves was a true Soph last year. He must've been grasping his assignments, the play book, to compliment his physical attributes as a player and it's not like the rest of our back seven wasn't making many of the same fundamental errors he was making. He earned the trust of the coaching staff who I believe we should trust more than our own instinctive, angry and diluted knowledge as mere fans. Cam looked good in garbage time against Indiana...but Reeves had the coaches trust for a reason. When Urban involved himself more with the defense during bowl practices we saw Pitt get replaced. Armani was still out there for a reason. 

I like the physicality he plays with. I think he will do much better under Ash's philosophy rather than Withers'. 

The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools. 

+1 HS
sivaDavis's picture

Some corners work well in press coverage and not so well out of it. Nnamdi Asomugha is a good example. Tore it up for Oakland in their press scheme. And then the Eagles tried to put him in zone and he stunk it up. Reeves deserves the shot but if someone takes his spot, he only has himself to blame seeing how he's starting right now.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

Barnsey69's picture

Not really worried at this point about any positions, at least when comparing this team to last year. New Year, new team, and the best will play. If our best aren't THE best in the B1G, then I will wear a scUM shirt to The Game come November. And my guess is we get to see if our best is THE best in the land come January.

The Buckeyes are f***ing loaded.

A little eternal spring optimism for a dreary Friday.

Go Bucks!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+2 HS
Mortc15's picture

Every defensive snap has been in press coverage. CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH, AMEN?!

Buck-I4Life

+1 HS
pdan46's picture

It is really good news when guys who are considered back-ups are having great spring practices! Vannett, Jones, Baugh, Conley, Apple and, of course, Lee (who now seems to be first team) all seem to be stepping up and deserve significant PT in the Fall.  That must be making Meyer and the Staff very happy.  Still a little surprised that Barrett is not ahead of Jones, but that is a good thing because we know how talented Barrett is and Jones is still at least a step or two ahead of him.  I say give them both significant PT this Fall, whenever possible, to get them experience and to preserve Miller.  The second Team QB should probably get at least one series in every game.

osubuckeye4life's picture

Almost everything was good news but I'm kinda disappointed in the place kicker issue. I hope everything is cleared up by the Fall. 

 

I really liked hearing Collier was the last to leave a good hour after the rest of the team working with on the receivers. 

This is the type of dedication I like to hear!

Also, very happy to hear Baugh has not let his off the field stuff ruin his on the field.