Urban Meyer and his coaching staff have coveted one or two tight ends in each of their recruiting classes since taking over the Ohio State football program, yet have only been able to land one of the guys they've targeted so far and even that hasn't worked out very well thus far.
The position is pretty important in the offense – at least to have one very good, athletic pass catcher at tight and who is also a solid blocker.
Today we're going to run through the hits and misses at the tight end position in the three recruiting classes Urban Meyer has completed since arriving in Columbus and also take a brief look at the big miss so far in the 2015 recruiting class.
Urban Meyer took over as head football coach in December of 2012, which gave him little time to recruit for this class. When he took the job, the Buckeyes already had a tight end committed from when Luke Fickell was the head coach in the form of St. Ignatius' Blake Thomas.
Thomas wasn't the greatest fit for the offense, but he was a potential sleeper and with limited time, he's the only guy the coaching staff was able to bring in for this class.
Unfortunately, Thomas didn't see the field as a freshman as he had issues with stingers. When further testing was done, it was discovered that Thomas had a nerve condition that if he was hit too hard,could suffer paralysis, bringing Thomas' career to a premature end.
It wasn't a big deal they didn't get a big time tight end recruit in this class, however, because they already had two good young ones in Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett.
When the coaching staff began to fill out the 2013 recruiting class, it was believed they wanted to take two tight ends if they were able to get the right two guys.
Three top guys emerged immediately in the likes of Mike Heuerman, Josh McNeil, and Marcus Baugh. Of the three it appeared they had the best chances with Heuerman (because of the fit and his brother) and McNeil, who was a freak athlete and fit the offense well, too. Then there was Baugh, who many thought the Scarlet and Gray had an outside chance of landing.
Then, on April 10th, 2013, Baugh shocked the recruiting world by committing to Ohio State without even taking a trip to Columbus before deciding he wanted to move all the way from California to play his college football in the Midwest.
Just about a week after Baugh committed, Mike Heuerman visited Ohio State for the spring game. Alex Anzalone committed at the game, so did Lewis Neal, who was followed by Joey Bosa. Many thought Heuerman was "in" as well, but Notre Dame was weighing on his mind and he eventually changed his mind and committed to the Fighting Irish just days after the Ohio State visit. In the end, Bosa was the only one of the aforementioned quartet to sign with the Buckeyes.
McNeil was very interested in the Buckeyes at the beginning of the recruiting process. He even had the Bucks on top at one point in his recruitment. Unfortunately, McNeil had some academic issues, Ohio State cooled, he cooled on the Buckeyes, and that was that.
At the time, it seemed like Baugh was a very good addition to the class and was poised to be Ohio State's future tight end. Unfortunately, he has run into trouble with the law on multiple occasions since enrolling at OSU. He's still on the football team, but will need to work his way back into the good graces of the coaching staff.
Time will tell with Baugh, but so far, not so good.
Ohio State didn't look at many tight ends in this class. There were really only two main guys in Jeb Blazevich and Mike Gesicki.
Blazevich was the first tight end the staff took a big swing and a miss on. They were firmly in the mix from day one of his recruitment and he took many trips to Columbus to check out what Ohio State had to offer. He was another guy who would've been an excellent fit in the offense.
He eliminated the Buckeyes late in his recruitment, then days later he verbally committed to play his college football for the Georgia Bulldogs. Fortunately he decided to make his college decision early, meaning there was plenty of time for the Buckeyes to find another tight end.
They identified their new guy just a couple of months later when the extended a scholarship offer to Mike Gesicki after a stellar performance at an Ohio State one day camp.
It appeared Ohio State was in a very good position to land Gesicki up until he took his official visit to Penn State where he saw the Nittany Lions "upset" Michigan under the lights.
Even on the night he was set to announce his college decision it seemed like the Buckeyes had a pretty solid shot to land him, but he ultimately went to Penn State. He stuck with his pledge there even after Bill O'Brien departed for the NFL.
Ohio State struck out on everyone at this position in the 2014 class, making it extremely important they do well at the position in the 2015 class.
There are still a lot of guys out there for the Buckeyes in the current recruiting class, but they've already struck out on their top target for the class.
Chris Clark, who had the Buckeyes as his leader just a little over a month ago committed to North Carolina just a couple of days ago. The standout tight end, who I had as my number four target for the class a whole when I released my monthly Ohio State recruiting hotlist a couple of weeks ago, didn't even step foot in Columbus as he visit that was originally slated for this weekend has obviously been called off.
However, barely a week removed from supposedly ending his process surprisingly, Clark is now indicating he will be visiting at least Ohio State after all.
The first tight end offered for the class, Garrett Williams isn't really considering the Buckeyes and is likely to end up at either Florida State, Clemson, or another school in the south.
We'll be taking a look at the remaining tight end targets for the 2015 class next week.