INDIANAPOLIS — After his senior season was hampered by lingering foot injuries, Jeff Heuerman is out to prove to potential NFL suitors that he’s on the mend and more than simply a blocking tight end that helped Ohio State to its first National Championship in a decade.
“I hope I haven't reached my peak. I've got a lot of years left to play, a lot of time to get better,” he said Thursday at the league’s annual combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
“But I did a lot of things in college, especially playing in Coach (Urban) Meyer's offense. As a tight end you get to do everything. So I've shown everything on film and these coaches have seen that. I'm fortunate.”
Indeed, Heuerman caught 26 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. Last season, however, he was less effective in the pass game, catching 17 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
It was the byproduct of a newfound role in Meyer’s spread offense — which underwent a quarterback carousel for the ages between Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones — and a series of injuries. After suffering a sprained foot during spring camp, which needed surgery to repair the damage, he sprained his ankle in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.
Heuerman added doctors told him he shouldn’t have played in the Buckeyes’ national title bout against Oregon last month, “but it was the national championship game in your senior year. You're not going to not play.”
“I had some assistance, I guess you could say, in dealing with some of the pain,” he said. “But it was good. It turned out all well and won the national championship. You can't ask for anything better than that.”
Asked if there was ever point during the Buckeyes’ campaign when he was healthy, Heuerman said, “No one's got a perfect career. Injuries are part of the game. You've just got to fight through them and keep going.”
Heuerman also suggested the dropoff in production is a non-issue.
“They've all seen my junior tape and they know. I don't think that's really one of the questions teams are bringing up,” he said. “They've seen it. They knew my role this year in the national championship team.”
As he recovers from the sprained ankle, Heuerman — whose athleticism has been noted by his coaches, including Meyer and tight ends coach Tim Hinton — will not partake in on-field drills this weekend.
Even so, he’s hoping his body of work in Columbus stands out to NFL personnel who will decide whether or not to induct him into their fraternities this spring.
“I can do it all, be an every-down tight end. I see so many guys who only catch balls, they only block,” he said. “I kind of pride myself on doing it all.”
Extra Notes: Heuerman on QB Quandary: ‘I Can’t Answer That’
- Asked who he thinks will start for Ohio State next season, Heuerman said, “I can't answer that. You know that. When I was younger I would've answered that.” The Buckeyes must decide between Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett, and Braxton Miller. “I'll probably find out on twitter, honestly. You know, they have three outstanding quarterbacks there,” Heuerman said. “That coaching staff and Coach Meyer, they know what they're doing. They'll have something in store for next year."
- In regards to the key behind Ohio State's powerful offense, which dropped 59 points against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and 42 points against Alabama and Oregon in the Sugar Bowl and National Championship, respectively, Heuerman said, "I can't tell you everything about it. There are a lot of secrets. There are a lot of things that go on. Coach Meyer is an offensive genius."