The most memorable moment from Gee Scott Jr.’s 2022 season was one he’d probably rather forget.
Trailing Michigan 24-20 halfway through the third quarter, Ohio State had a golden opportunity to get back out in front with a drive that started in Michigan territory. On the very first play, C.J. Stroud completed a 24-yard pass to Chip Trayanum that put the Buckeyes in the red zone. But the play was wiped out by a holding call on Donovan Jackson.
Following the play, Scott was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after headbutting Michigan safety Rod Moore on the sideline. That backed the Buckeyes all the way up to their own 27-yard line, and with 35 yards to gain for a first down, Ohio State wound up punting.
Michigan outscored the Buckeyes 21-3 the rest of the way and Scott didn’t see the field again. In fact, the incident served as Scott’s final play of the season, as an injury kept him sidelined for last month’s Peach Bowl loss.
The headbutt may serve as the lasting image from Scott’s third season. But before that, the four-star wide receiver recruit believes his increased role in his second year at tight end proved he’s taking the right steps toward becoming an even more significant component of the Ohio State offense.
If that’s the case, Scott will have plenty of opportunities to replace that image in the seasons to come.
“There was just a lot of development, that's where a lot of my focus was. Just making sure I'm developing and that's been the main focus and that's what I've done since I made the transition to tight end,” Scott told Eleven Warriors at Peach Bowl media day in Atlanta. “It's been nothing but development and just controlling what I can control and then just having faith and trust in the program that everything else is going to take care of itself.”
As a pass catcher, Scott was slightly less productive in 2022 than he was in 2021. Scott scored his first career touchdown this past season, but his five catches went for just 28 yards. As a second-year Buckeye, Scott caught five passes for 42 yards.
But at Ohio State, catching the ball isn’t the first priority for the tight end position. Scott’s snap count shows the Buckeye staff is gaining confidence in his ability as a blocker, which has been his biggest point of emphasis since making the transition from wideout. Scott played just 55 snaps in 2021, but that number rose to 140 as he received a longer leash in 2022.
Scott logged snaps at tight end in every game other than the Peach Bowl. While he only cracked 20 or more in one contest, Scott said he’s laying the groundwork for more playing time in the future.
“My role shows that (I’m improving). When I first came into tight end, not taking necessarily any snaps, and then slowly just kind of getting more and more roles as the time goes on,” Scott said. “So hopefully moving into next year, that role continues to progress.”
Scott knew it would take time to grow into the position. Entering the program around 210 pounds as the 10th-ranked receiver in the 2020 cycle, Scott said he’s added more than 30 pounds to his frame since then, which has enabled him to physically handle defenders with more ease.
“I'm looking to see things out here. There's nowhere else that I want to go.”– Gee Scott on his future at OSU
“The most strides is definitely just putting on the weight necessary to be able to play the position I do. You simply just can't play (tight end) at 220 pounds,” Scott said. “So I'm playing at 242 right now and I feel a lot better. That's where I've seen the most growth is just having the correct size for the role that I play.”
Still, how much Scott’s role will increase in 2023 is still largely unclear. Cade Stover, who logged 707 snaps as the Buckeyes’ top tight end in 2022, is coming back for another year in the program, which will leave Scott and other Buckeyes fighting for ancillary roles at the position.
I AM COMING BACK.— Cade Stover (@cstov8) January 9, 2023
Beyond Scott, 2020 classmate Joe Royer is also competing for more time as in his fourth year. Sam Hart, Bennett Christian and incoming freshman Jelani Thurman will all be in the mix as well. Among returning tight ends, though, Scott played the most snaps of any Buckeye other than Stover.
While he isn’t likely to step into a starting role at the start of his fourth season in the program, Scott said he isn’t looking to jump ship for a quicker path to more playing time elsewhere.
“I'm looking to see things out here,” Scott said. “There's nowhere else that I want to go.”
There will be changes around Scott in 2023. The Washington native will no longer be under the tutelage of Kevin Wilson, as longtime support staffer Keenan Bailey takes over tight end coaching duties from outgoing offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who is now Tulsa’s head coach.
Scott said he’s been close with Bailey since his recruitment.
“Coach Kee and I are cool. He was one of the people that was big in recruiting me to get here, him and Coach Hartline,” Scott said. “I've had a good relationship with him since I was a recruit. And I'm excited to get going.”
Scott will no longer be catching passes from Stroud, as the two-time Heisman Trophy finalist is headed to the NFL following two years as the Buckeye starter. But Scott has no less faith in Kyle McCord and Devin Brown, who will compete for the starting quarterback job all offseason. Scott is more keyed in on his own improvement and believes everything else will fall into place.
“I mean, this is Ohio State so we always have the next-man-up mentality. Everyone on our team works hard to put themselves in positions to make our team the best that we can be,” Scott said. “So I've seen both those guys work hard and our whole entire quarterback room is competitive. But for the most part, I've been just kind of focusing on what I got going on and having faith and trusting that the team's gonna get what they need to get done.”