Kevin Wilson told Cane Berrong to keep an eye on the way Ohio State uses its tight ends during the 2019 season.
Cane Berrong, the No. 1 tight end in the 2021 class, made his way to Columbus for the first time Saturday for an unofficial visit. During that visit, he was able to see offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson, who he’d already met and received an offer from, but he also got to meet head coach Ryan Day and some of the other staff.
One of the most significant people Berrong met during his visit though was sophomore tight end Jeremy Ruckert.
Ruckert was the No. 2 tight end – rated No. 1 by 247Sports – in the Class of 2018, and former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer once said Ruckert was “the best” tight end he’d ever recruited.
Berrong exchanged phone numbers with Ruckert during his visit and plans to stay in touch with the dynamic 6-foot-6 tight end as his own recruitment continues on, because the type of season that Ruckert has in 2019 could determine whether Berrong continues to consider Ohio State as a landing spot.
“Coach Wilson told me how they plan on using the tight ends this fall,” Berrong said. “They have two good ones in (junior) Rashod Berry and Jeremy Ruckert. He wants me to watch this fall how they’re used and come up for a game.”
Tight end is considered one of the stronger positions on the Ohio State roster going into the 2019 season, as the Buckeyes didn’t lose a player in the room during the offseason. But therein lies the problem – Ohio State didn’t use its tight ends much in the passing game.
Then-sophomore Luke Farrell led the position with 20 catches for 205 yards, while Berry recorded 78 yards and Ruckert caught one pass as a freshman.
Berrong will want to go to a program that features its tight ends in the passing game. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound high school sophomore is featured on the outside and in space most often by Hart County in Georgia. While he’s an able blocker, it’s clear just a few minutes into his tape that he has elite pass-catching abilities for a high school tight end.
Ruckert was in a similar position to Berrong when he was being recruited. The New York-native was rated as the No. 2 tight end in the country and was known to be a dynamic playmaker from the position with many options when it came to offers to choose from.
But only 296 of Ohio State’s 5,100 receiving yards came from the tight end position in 2018 with the same tight ends on the roster that are set to suit up in 2019. That means the change must come from offensive philosophy, and Berrong has said Wilson has conveyed that message to him.
“I like the staff and have a good relationship with them now,” Berrong said. “I just want to see in the fall how they use the tight end with the staff changes. Under Coach Meyer, they were more wide receiver based. But what they told me, the type of tight end I am, it would be a good fit.”
When Berrong first received his offer in February, he told Eleven Warriors that Wilson explained Ohio State’s desire to use more 12 personnel – one running back, two tight ends – in 2019, which could mitigate the loss of wide receivers Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon as well as put more athletic tight ends on the field for opportunities in the passing game.
Ruckert is expected to be more of a player in the passing game in 2019, at least in a position to catch more than one pass. And with the staff telling the No. 1 tight end to actively keep an eye on the position, it would seem like changes are on the way.
Ohio State has afforded itself this opportunity with Berrong because it was one of the first programs to find him. Upon discovering his talent, Ohio State immediately extended the offer, and just a couple months later, 247Sports rated him as the top tight end in the country.
Now, Berrong has offers from nearly every top program in the country, including Alabama, Notre Dame, Georgia and others.
His tie to Ruckert, though, will ensure that Ohio State maintains position near the top of the list, and how often the Buckeyes throw in his direction will determine just how strongly they’ll be considered.
“It's big,” Berrong said about his relationship with Ruckert. “I want to see how the coaches use him and Berry next year. Both are really good tight ends.”