Jeremy Ruckert Poised For Breakout Freshman Campaign

By James Grega on May 28, 2018 at 10:10 am
Jeremy Ruckert

J.K. Dobbins' explosion onto the college football scene in 2017 was a phenomenon that only a few saw coming. After Mike Weber’s explosive freshman season, not many saw someone taking carries, especially 194, away from the Detroit native.  

However, with Weber hampered with a hamstring injury, Dobbins got the start in the season opener and rushed for a freshman record 181 yards in a 49-21 win over the Hoosiers. He finished with 1,403 yards on the ground for the season, and was named MVP of the Big Ten title game. 

While it is unlikely a Buckeye rookie is able to replicate the same success in 2018, there is one particular offensive player that could find the end zone more than his upper classmen counterparts. 

Jeremy Ruckert comes to OSU as one of the most highly recruited tight ends in program history, and with Ohio State's lack of production at the TE position in the past, could be poised for a breakout year.

Ruckert projects as a flex tight end, meaning he can split out as an outside wide receiver from time-to-time because of his athleticism. 

With Ohio State's lack of production at wide receiver in recent years, first year starter Dwayne Haskins will be looking for a sure fire go-to receiver as he takes the reins of the Buckeye offense. Ruckert likely isn't that guy, but because Ohio State has had limited success in the passing game with tight ends in the past, the expectations are low enough that Ruckert could surprise some people come fall. 

At 6-foot-5, 238 pounds, Ruckert is ready to step onto a college football field right away. He gives Ohio State versatility at the position the Buckeyes haven't had since Jake Stoneburner in 2012. He can line up in a three-point stance, split out as a wide receiver, or line up in the slot, creating mismatches against linebackers. 

He will have to compete immediately with the likes of Luke Farrell and Rashod Berry, but due to the lack of production from this position in recent years, he will likely be given every chance to leap those veterans once fall camp opens. 

While tight end success has eluded Ohio State over the years, that has not always been the case for Urban Meyer coached teams. Players like Jordan Reed, Cornelius Ingram and Aaron Hernandez had tremendous success in Meyer's offense at Florida. 

Ohio State hasn't had a tight end catch 30 or more passes since Ben Hartsock hauled in 33 passes for 290 yards and a pair of scores in 2003. The closest anyone has come since then was Marcus Baugh last season, who caught 28 passes for 304 yards and five scores. 

Ruckert isn't going to haul in 30 passes as a freshman while also competing with a pair of veteran players at the position. However, he could very well be the surprise freshman of the year much like Dobbins was a season ago. 

It isn't likely he makes nearly the kind of impact the 2017 running back did, but Ruckert could turn some heads in 2018, and could add a new element to the Buckeye offense. 

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