As Ohio State nears the end of its first full 20-hour week of football activities this fall, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and tight ends Luke Farrell, Jeremy Ruckert and Jake Hausmann met with the media on Friday afternoon to discuss the start of the preseason and their expectations for the 2020 season that's now four weeks away.
Our bullet-point recaps of what each of them had to say during their interview sessions, with video of Wilson above and of each of the tight ends below:
Kevin Wilson, Offensive Coordinator
- Wilson said leadership is the area where he believes Justin Fields has grown the most. Fields is on a vegan diet now, which Wilson said has made him leaner and faster.
- Wilson said offensive game planning and play calling is very collaborative between him, Ryan Day and the rest of Ohio State's offensive coaching staff. They don't talk a lot during drives because they're a no-huddle team, but they are usually on the same page because they often see things the same way.
- Wilson said Master Teague and Trey Sermon have split the running backs reps with the first-team offense, and he thinks they'll split snaps about 50/50 to start the season. Wilson said he would “anticipate Coach Alford getting to the point where three guys are playing” at running back; Steele Chambers is currently leading the second-team running backs.
- Wilson said Ohio State has moved walk-on Xavier Johnson to running back and that both he and Demario McCall are functioning as hybrid backs/receivers.
- Wilson said Ohio State has to be careful about how they ramp up practice over the next couple of weeks because of how long it's been since the Buckeyes have practiced in pads. Said the biggest thing they've missed this offseason is young players not getting those reps in pads.
- On Ohio State's tight end unit: “I think it's got a chance to be the best we've had since we've been here.”
- “We had a lot of guys opt in. The key is we need to make sure guys keep buying in.”
- “I think the tight ends are very, very undervalued by a lot of people.”
- Wilson said the coaches need to be careful not to overthink their offensive game planning with how much talent they have to work with. Want to keep it simple so those talented players can “cut it loose.”
Luke Farrell, Tight End
- Farrell said this offseason was frustrating not knowing whether Ohio State would get to play, but he and his teammates leaned on each other, and they're happy they got the result they wanted.
- With no fans in Ohio Stadium this year, Farrell said he and his teammates will have to do a good job of creating their own energy.
- “I think as an offense, we can be one of the most prolific offenses we've seen around here, if not in all of college football.”
- Farrell said Jake Hausmann has “made huge improvements in every aspect of his game,” which the Buckeyes have seen in practice even though he hasn't had a ton of opportunities to show that on game day.
- Farrell said he isn't worried about his individual numbers because if Ohio State's offense is succeeding, that will take care of itself.
- Like Wilson, Farrell said Justin Fields' development as a leader is what has stood out to him most between last year and this year.
- Farrell said he didn't realize how good he was at football until he got a call from Urban Meyer in high school.
Jake Hausmann, Tight End
- Hausmann said he's always believed he had the ability to make an impact for Ohio State, it's just “a matter of putting it all together.”
- Hausmann said Fields has blossomed as a vocal leader over the past six months, and everyone has been following his lead.
- On Cade Stover: “He's doing great. He's a super-athletic guy. He can go up and get the ball. ... He's as athletic as any tight end can be. He's as physical and strong as you need him to be. ... I think he's been doing a great job so far.”
- Will this be the best offense Ohio State has had since Hausmann, a fifth-year senior, has been here? “It has the potential to be.”
- On Trey Sermon: “I don't think he really skipped a beat when he came over here.” Said Sermon has done a great job in practice.
- “We have an offensive line that just loves mauling people. It's awesome seeing them work.” He doesn't think the running game will skip a beat with Sermon and Teague.
Jeremy Ruckert, Tight End
- “My goal is just to do whatever I can to help this team win a national championship, and beat Nebraska right now.”
- Ruckert said he has gotten stronger physically, and he hopes that will show up in his blocking.
- Ruckert said everyone was heartbroken when they got the news in August that they wouldn't get to play this fall, but since they've gotten the green light to play this season, there's been a lot of energy throughout the team.
- Ruckert said Ohio State players have talked about the possibility of a future coaching matchup between Ryan Day and Jeff Hafley, and what that matchup would be like, because they're both so good at what they do.
- On Sermon: “He's not outspoken, he just does everything right, and he's very promising out there.”
- On building a squat rack with his dad when he was back in New York this offseason, Ruckert said that was good not only so he'd have equipment to work with, but also because it was a great bonding experience with his father and brothers.