It was pretty obvious in 2018 that even with Ryan Day calling the shots, the Ohio State Buckeyes’ offense wasn’t fully designed in the new head coach’s vision quite yet. Day’s air raid sensibilities were satiated by an excellent quarterback and receivers room, but the personnel fits at halfback, on the light, and above all else at tight end weren’t ideal for Day’s pass heavy system.
That makes sense. Urban Meyer was always a run first coach, so his running backs were usually more focused on consistency than speed, his line was usually focused on running over passing, and his tight ends were almost always blockers instead of receivers. We saw that shift a little bit when Ohio State landed Jeremy Ruckert in the 2018 class, but the Buckeyes went without a tight end in 2019 because the position was a bit overloaded.
Now, in 2020, Day has a chance to get “his guys” in the program, and he’s done just that moments ago, as Ohio State picked up a pledge from Elder tight end Joe Royer. How does the new guy fit the offense? Perfectly.
On the field
Royer, just like Ruckert was a few years back, is essentially a big receiver for his high school. He mostly lines up outside, runs every route a regular receiver does, and has the athletic ability to run with and beat cornerbacks down the field. Hell, at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, he’s closer in size to Jaylen Harris than he is to Luke Farrell.
Now, obviously, he’s going to bulk up a bit in Columbus. Using Ruckert as an extended example, Ohio State will probably look to add about 15 pounds to Royer’s frame, which would put him at a more traditionally 240 pounds. That extra size would allow him to run most of his routes off the line, which is what Ohio State wants.
Adding that weight, however, won’t have too much of an impact on Royer’s athleticism, which is Ohio State’s number one goal. He’s got good speed, quickness, and explosiveness right now, and Ohio State doesn’t want to lose that. The Buckeyes want him as a passing threat first, and a blocker as a distant second.
That’s what makes him such a great fit: he already fits as a passing threat. He runs good routes, has great hands, and knows exactly what to do as a receiver. He can serve as a deep threat or as a security blanket, and I imagine the Buckeyes will use him frequently as both, as they will with Ruckert. They’ll sneak him out into open space on RPOs, like Oklahoma does, and making a killing in the redzone because of his size.
Now, Royer is still a three-star according to the 247Sports composite rankings, but I can give two thoughts on that should calm down the star watchers. Firstly, the low ranking is largely a result of Royer being relatively unknown until he picked up an Ohio State offer, paired with his relative inexperience as a blocker. Ohio State doesn’t really care about his blocking, so that doesn’t make an impact on their evaluation of him.
Secondly, I think that his ranking is only going to go up. He sits at 508 right now, but his in-house 247 ranking is already at 200. Once other sites catch up, and once he plays his senior season, I think Royer will be a top five tight end in the 2020 class with relative ease. He’s one of the best athletes and most natural fits at the position in the entire country. He proved that to Ohio State when they offered him instead of Luke Lachey back in early June, and I expect him to prove it to everyone else this fall.
In the class
Royer is the 16th member of Ohio State’s 2020 class, and the fifth member of the presumed passing game, along with Julian Fleming, Gee Scott, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and quarterback Jack Miller. He fits right in with that group, and should compliment each of those players very well with his specific skillset.
He chose the Buckeyes over offers from Arizona State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Michigan and Penn State, among others, but I wouldn’t consider this much of a fight. It was over as soon as Ohio State offered back on June 7th, and everything since then has essentially just been logistics. Royer wanted to be at Ohio State, he got the offer, and he committed. Simple as that.
This pledge, paired with the additions of Clark Phillips, Darrion Henry, Ben Christman, and Cody Simon in the days after Ohio State’s massive recruiting weekend, have made that big visit look pretty successful, in retrospect. There was certainly some anxiety among Ohio State fans after a relatively quiet few days after that visit, but I think we’re really going to start to see that hard work pay off in the next few days, and Royer is yet another dividend from an extremely successful weekend.