Better Know a Buckeye: Max LeBlanc Brings Promising Developmental Potential at Tight End

By Josh Poloha on May 31, 2024 at 10:10 am
Max LeBlanc

Better Know A Buckeye is our look at every member of Ohio State’s 2024 recruiting class and how they became Buckeyes as they prepare to begin their OSU careers this fall.

Prior to 2018, Max LeBlanc had never played football. Growing up in Canada, his father, Sébastien, was a tennis star, winning three junior Grand Slam trophies and representing Canada in the Davis Cup from 1994-97. Max was raised on the courts with a racket in his hands and seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps.

But that all changed when the younger LeBlanc realized tennis wasn't for him because he's "more of a team player."

Max LeBlanc

  • Size: 6-5/250
  • Pos: TE
  • School: Baylor School (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
  • Star Rating: ★★★★
  • Composite Rank: #258 (#14 TE)

After deciding to move on from tennis, LeBlanc tried out for football and never looked back. After a few seasons playing football in Canada, his family moved from Quebec to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2022, jumpstarting his football career as a high school recruit.

A “big fan” of Ohio State since he started playing football, LeBlanc was the first of two tight ends to commit to the Buckeyes in the 2024 class along with Damarion Witten. He was ranked as the No. 14 tight end (No. 258 overall) in 247Sports’ composite rankings for the class.

How He Became a Buckeye

When then-new Ohio State tight ends coach Keenan Bailey extended an offer to LeBlanc in January 24, 2023, the Tennessee resident didn't hold a 247Sports composite ranking despite it being LeBlanc's 20th Division I offer.

After visiting Ohio State on March 30, LeBlanc committed to the Buckeyes just over two weeks later, mere moments before Ohio State's 2023 spring game and less than three months after receiving his OSU offer, becoming Bailey's first commitment as the position coach.

“He’s an unbelievable young man and comes from a great family,” LeBlanc’s high school coach, Erik Kimrey, told Eleven Warriors in April 2023. “I know very early in the process Ohio State was a school that he had his eye on. When they offered, he was excited. In my role all I try to do is help families make decisions best for their son and give any guide rails they might need from my experiences and help them decide what’s in their heart. Clearly, Ohio State was in his.” 

LeBlanc committed to OSU over the likes of Michigan, North Carolina and Tennesee, among others.

High School Years

As a junior, LeBlanc caught 39 passes for 695 yards and three touchdowns while helping lead Baylor School to an 11-2 record. He was often utilized as a wide receiver, lining up primarily in the slot, though the 6-foot-5, 226-pound tight end also showcased his blocking ability when deployed in a traditional tight end position on running plays.

“The first time I ever saw him run a route,” Kimrey, who previously served as South Carolina's tight ends coach for the 2021 season before taking over at Baylor, said of when he knew LeBlanc would be a Power Five player. “I coached tight ends in the SEC two years ago, so I feel like I have a pretty decent eye. The first time you see him, I feel like he impresses you with his stature. He’s almost 6-5, and his hands are circus-level big. Once he started running I saw the fluidity of how he moves and just the natural way in which he catches the football. All it took was two routes before we said ‘Well, this guy is going to have a good year for us at Baylor School.’

“He understands how to run routes and leverage. He has such a huge radius to catch the ball because he’s so long, and his hands are so good. He could play on Saturdays now when it comes to that. ... They’re going to get a good one.”

LeBlanc was even better in his final high school season, totaling 49 catches for 884 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior.

Immediate Impact

With Cade Stover taking his talents to the NFL, Ohio State's tight end room doesn't have much experience. That said, Gee Scott Jr. will likely be the starter after serving as the backup in 2023, while Jelani Thurman and Ohio transfer Will Kacmarek are also candidates to play major roles. Walk-on Patrick Gurd could push for a spot on that three-deep as well.

With that, LeBlanc's first season or two in Columbus will be focused on developing his body off the field while learning how to become a legitimate Big Ten tight end on the field. Tight end is a position where players often need multiple years to develop before playing at Ohio State, and LeBlanc didn’t have the advantage of being an early enrollee.

“I think the same thing every 17-to-19-year-old needs when playing Power Five football which is a little bit of time and strength,” Kimrey said when asked what aspects of LeBlanc's game will need the most fine-tuning immediately. “You’re blocking 22-to-23-year-old grown men. I’d say the same thing about anybody going to play on that level. It takes time to acclimate to the strength and size of the game, but he’ll be able to do it well.

“He does all the little things right, and is probably the hardest worker on our entire team.” 

Long-Term Impact

Gurd is the only tight end on Ohio State's 2024 roster who exhausts his eligibility after this season, so the depth chart won’t necessarily be any clearer for LeBlanc in 2025. Then again, if LeBlanc adds some muscle and size to his frame and masters Ohio State’s offense quickly, he could force his way onto the field with his well-rounded skill set as both a blocker and pass-catcher.

LeBlanc should fight for a spot on the three-deep as a redshirt freshman in 2025 before making a bigger push for significant playing time in his third season in Columbus. If he continues to develop upon his growth over his two seasons at Baylor School, expect him to play a major role for Ohio State as an upperclassman.

Player Comparison: Marcus Baugh

After barely playing in his first three seasons as a Buckeye, combining for just three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown, Baugh made the most of his increased role during his final two seasons in Columbus.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end notched 52 receptions for 573 yards and seven touchdowns during his final two years at Ohio State, including 28 catches for 304 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games as a senior.

While LeBlanc is more athletic than the former Buckeye, Baugh was good in both the passing game and as a blocker, offering a similarly well-rounded skill set to LeBlanc. If the tight end position continues to be showcased more in Ohio State's offense going forward, much like it was with Stover in 2023, LeBlanc should ultimately have more opportunities to contribute in the box score, even if he has to wait his turn in a deep tight ends group this season.

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