Spring practice continues to move forward in Columbus.
With two and a half weeks to go until the spring game, the Buckeyes’ tight ends – Jeremy Ruckert, Cade Stover, Joe Royer and walk-ons Mitch Rossi and Corey Rau – joined the media to talk about how camp has gone thus far and how their position group is developing.
A bullet-point rundown of what they said (with video on the way):
- Ruckert on the plan for the tight ends: "Really just trying to give us more opportunities in the passing game."
- He says as a player, you can never be comfortable with your standing. "Definitely a lot more confident, but I wouldn't say I'm comfortable with where I'm at."
- Ruckert says he knew he had more to give to this team and this university, which led him to stay at Ohio State this season. "I think the main factor is just that I had more to give ... I wanted to just give everything I had.”
- On the tight ends: "The versatility of our position is going to be shown more than ever."
- He says he thinks the biggest area he can still improve on this season is consistency as a blocker.
- Stover said the transition to tight end was “tough” at first, but he's getting the hang of it now going into his second year. He said the biggest thing he had to learn from year one to year two was the mental aspect of playing the position; as a high school tight end, he could rely more on his talent.
- Stover said he didn't really view last year's disjointed offseason as a setback. He's taking things “one step at a time.”
- On the opportunity to potentially be the No. 2 tight end: “I obviously want to seize it,” but knows he has to work hard to make that happen.
- On being a tight end after starting his career on defense: “I think I've found a home here. I'm happy to be here.” Said he enjoys having the ball in his hands and the opportunity to make plays in space.
- Stover said the biggest learning curve for him over the past year was route-running, because he didn't run many advanced routes in high school. He had to learn the footwork and technique of blocking, too, but he already had the physicality.
- Royer said the biggest area he's had to improve upon in his first year as a Buckeye is blocking. He got an early education on blocking last year, he said, when Zach Harrison pushed him 10 yards into the backfield during a play in practice.
- He said Jeremy Ruckert has been a great mentor to him, and it is inspiring to see the way Ruckert has developed since he comes in as a similar player who was more of a receiver than a blocker in high school. He said he always sees Ruckert doing everything he can in the weight room, with his diet, etc. to get his body right.
- Royer said is goal for this season is to “get on the field somehow,” whether that's on special teams or offense. He said he's practicing primarily as an H/receiving tight end rather than as an in-line blocker.
- On walking on: "I was just kind of lucky to get the opportunity honestly." He came to Ohio State on a visit with his high school teammate Max Wray, and ever since then he has been trying to work and keep his head down.
- He says Kevin Wilson likes to utilize him as a fullback or H-back who does some of the stuff he did back when he coached at Oklahoma.
- "It's really hard to kind of come in and find your way as a walk-on." He mentions C.J. Saunders helped him when he arrived, and now he tries to be that guy.
- Rossi says tight ends keep track of knockdown blocks. "That's really what we enjoy. That's what we pride ourselves on."
- "It's a lot better this year than last year." He says he didn't have as much time to show what he can do and prove he can get onto the field last year.
- Rau says Stover just got back into practices after dealing with COVID-19. Notes he has gotten much better: "He's come a long way."
- He says he was choosing between Ohio State and Florida State to walk onto when he transferred from SMU last year. But then Willie Taggart and his staff got fired, so the choice was simple. "Prayed about it and the Lord blessed me with this opportunity."
- "I feel a lot more confident." Says last year was hectic due to coronavirus. He likes to learn plays running through them rather than relying solely on the playbook.
- Rau says he's more of a "hand-down tight end" who excels with his in-line blocking.
- On Ruckert: "He's a leader. He's one of the best that's ever come through here."