Gee Scott Jr. Impressing Ohio State Coaches with Leadership, Development As He Competes to Start at Tight End

By Dan Hope on March 26, 2024 at 3:55 pm
Gee Scott Jr.

While the competition to replace Cade Stover as Ohio State’s starting tight end this season remains ongoing, Gee Scott Jr. appears to be emerging as the frontrunner.

That doesn’t come as a big surprise, given that Scott was Ohio State’s No. 2 tight end last season behind Stover and played the most offensive snaps of any player outside of the primary 11 starters. Still, questions lingered entering this spring about whether Scott would truly be ready to be an every-down player at the position, particularly as a blocker.

Based on what he’s shown his coaches so far this spring, though, it sounds as though Scott is making the necessary strides to demonstrate that he belongs in the starting lineup this year.

“I think he's had a really good offseason, I think he's gonna have a really good spring, I think he's right where he needs to be,” Ryan Day said last week. “He’s had the right offseason, he's got the right approach. His leadership and just demeanor has been excellent, attitude’s been off the charts. I think he's poised to have a really good year. Has to go do it.”

Ohio State tight ends coach Keenan Bailey said Scott has emerged as a leader of his unit.

“I think he sets the tone for the unit,” Bailey said Tuesday. “He's been here for quite a while. He knows what it takes, right? So he sets the tone as far as details and preparation and effort and toughness. And everyone's got to follow.”

Now going into his fifth year as a Buckeye, Scott is the most veteran tight end on Ohio State’s roster. That said, the Buckeyes brought in another experienced tight end to compete for the starting job this offseason in Will Kacmarek, who played 935 snaps for the Ohio Bobcats over the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus.

Jelani Thurman is also a candidate to earn a bigger role this season after redshirting as a true freshman, while Bennett Christian looks to earn his way into the tight end rotation as well after he was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance last season.

Day indicated last week, though, that Scott was a step ahead of the rest of Ohio State’s tight ends.

“I think Jelani, Will, Bennett, those guys are gonna have to really step up the next couple of weeks to figure out who's going to be able to play,” Day said. “But we got enough talent in the room. It's not like we look in the room and say ‘There's not enough guys, we gotta go find somebody in the portal.’ That's not the case. I think we've got to go develop them, but we’ll probably know more here again in a couple weeks.”

An indicator of Scott’s standing in the tight end room this spring came at last week’s Ohio State pro day when Scott was among a select few Buckeyes – also including quarterbacks Devin Brown and Will Howard and defensive ends Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau – who were given the opportunity to work out alongside the NFL draft prospects participating in the event. While Bailey said the reason Scott was chosen to participate in the pass-catching workout was because Ohio State wanted to have a route-runner so that the NFL draft prospects would have more rest between reps, he acknowledged that OSU wouldn’t have chosen just anyone to participate in the showcase.

“That was nothing more than we had only a handful of guys running routes, and we didn't want them to be gassed,” Bailey said. “But, again, I think it means something when we ask you to represent Ohio State, and I think Gee and Cade did a good job at pro day.”

“I think he's had a really good offseason, I think he's gonna have a really good spring, I think he's right where he needs to be.”– Ryan Day on Gee Scott Jr.’s improvement

Because Scott started his Ohio State career as a wide receiver, he sometimes gets viewed through the lens of being a wide receiver playing tight end. Bailey, however, said that’s never the way he’s coached Scott, who is now listed at 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds entering his fourth year as a tight end.

“I promise you I never … I didn't say ‘Oh, but he's a receiver playing tight end.’ He's a tight end,” Bailey said. “So he’s gonna be graded like a tight end and treated like a tight end.”

Bailey says Scott has “gotten way better” since he first became a tight end, putting Scott in position to potentially lead the tight end unit in 2024. That said, Bailey doesn’t want the burden of replacing Stover to fall solely on Scott.

“I think everyone needs to step up,” Bailey said. “I think about the unit. The unit’s got to be the best tight end unit in the conference, best in the country. That's Ohio State. That's why you came here, to be the best. So I don't know if just one person is going to step in and be Cade Stover. I'm not asking anyone to do that. I'm asking the whole unit to be the toughest unit on the team, hardest-working unit on the team, and I think we'll like our results.”

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