The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.
Hart looks up to Ruckert, will soon learn from standout TE
Jeremy Ruckert is back. Good for Ohio State fans.
Jeremy Ruckert is back. Not good for Sam Hart’s chances of early playing time.
Hart, a three-star prospect out of Cherokee Trail (Colorado) High School, signed with the Buckeyes as part of their 2021 class. One positive of him choosing Ohio State over programs such as his other top-two choices (Notre Dame and USC) was the shot at getting early snaps.
That still may happen, but Ruckert returning diminishes that chance quite a bit.
Hart had been working under the assumption that Ruckert was going to leave for the pros after this season. However, even before Ruckert made the decision to return, in a December interview with Hart, he told Eleven Warriors that he was going to be OK with whatever happened during his first year in regards to seeing the field.
“That’s the goal is to get some playing time my freshman year, but they’re gonna have to do what’s best for the team and what’s best for my future,” Hart said. “If I don’t get playing time and need to put on weight or get more physical or something, I’ll understand that. But going in, that’s my goal is to get some playing time as a freshman.”
Whether or not he sees the field a lot as a first-year player, Hart will be able to learn from one of the nation’s most talented at his position in Ruckert, whom he has actually been compared to in the past.
“That’s pretty special to me because when I get there, that’s who I’m gonna look up to,” Hart said of the Ruckert comparison. “He’s a great role model to look up to. He’s an upperclassman and he’s done a lot of great things with the program, and he’s got a bright future ahead of him. That’s kind of my goal right now.”
“That’s pretty special to me because when I get there, that’s who I’m gonna look up to. He’s a great role model to look up to.”– Sam hart on people comparing him to jeremy ruckert
Hart could still certainly compete for playing time. Luke Farrell is likely gone to the NFL, while third-year Cade Stover and second-year Joe Royer are the only remaining tight ends on scholarship. And after Ryan Day deployed a lot of two-tight end sets throughout the 2020 season, that paves the way for Hart to get his shot at the two-deep.
“I know that they’re always gonna have tight ends on the field and always use them as a big part of that offense, but to see them get a lot more passes this year and get utilized a lot more, it was really great to see that,” Hart said. “Especially having great tight ends like Ruckert and Farrell.”
Kevin Wilson’s vision for Hart is to use his versatility and his strong hands as a pass catcher. That’s how the young tight end can be used in the Buckeyes’ scheme in addition to his ability to tack on weight.
“I’m physical up front,” Hart said. “(Wilson’s) seen me practice for wrestling, and he’s seen my flexibility. He knows that he’ll be able to train me into being a good Ohio State tight end.”
Hart is sitting at around 230 pounds as he enrolls early in Columbus, and tacking on a good amount of weight during the spring and summer is one of his primary goals ahead of the fall.
When he eventually arrives on campus, it will conclude a personally remarkable recruiting journey for Hart, who last visited Ohio State for its November 2019 win over Penn State at The Shoe. That’s the weekend he knew in his Heart (get it?) that his recruitment was over.
“I kind of had them in my mind. I went on visits at the end of June and in July, and I went on some game day visits to Notre Dame and USC. Those were my other top-two choices,” Hart said. “But I kind of knew Ohio State was my favorite throughout that, and then that Penn State game it was like, ‘This is my home. I’m ready.’ A few weeks later, I called up Coach (Tony) Alford, Coach Wilson and Coach (Ryan) Day and committed, and I’ve been so happy with my decision.”