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.”
- “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.