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Ohio State’s tight ends are quietly making a huge impact on the offense

Jeremy Ruckert, Luke Farrell, and Jake Hausmann might not see many targets, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t integral to what the Buckeyes do on offense.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

With so much talent assembled on offense annually, there is always going to be someone left out on the fun. More often than not, the group that plays a huge impact in what Ohio State does without getting many touches are the tight ends. This year Jeremy Ruckert, Luke Farrell, and Jake Hausmann have combined for just 13 catches.

That doesn’t mean that opponents can sleep on Ohio State’s tight ends though, as they can do damage at critical moments of the game. Whether it be Marcus Baugh catching the game-winner in the thrilling 39-38 victory over Penn State a few years ago or Jeremy Ruckert’s miraculous catch early in the third quarter of last year’s Big Ten Championship Game, the tight ends of the Buckeyes don’t get the attention they deserve.

Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson has coached some great offenses during his coaching career. Wilson calls this year’s group of tight ends at Ohio State “the best group I’ve ever coached” which is saying a lot. What makes Ohio State’s tight ends so valuable is they do whatever is asked of them. For example, a few weeks ago against Michigan State the blocking of Farrell and Ruckert was even more important because of the number of offensive linemen that the Buckeyes were missing.

Coming out of high school, Ruckert was thought of as the next coming of Jeremy Shockey — a tight end who had the athleticism to make plays all over the field when the ball was in his hands. While Ruckert hasn’t quite made the impact catching the football that many thought he would, he has gone from being a player who knew nothing about blocking coming into college, to being one of the most trusted blockers on the team.

Ruckert owes a lot of his success of the strides he has made as a blocker to senior tight end Luke Farrell. The New York product credits Farrell with making him a more complete player on the field. Ruckert knows he could have gone somewhere else and been targeted a lot more in the passing game, but he couldn’t pass up the challenge of bettering himself as a player with the Buckeyes.

Even though Ohio State’s tight ends might not get the glory of some of the other tight ends around the country, they are in high demand at the next level because of their all-around skills. Currently Baugh, Nick Vannett, and Rashod Berry are on NFL active rosters or practice squads, and over the last decade Jake Stoneburner and Jeff Heuerman also spent some time in the league.

With rumors of there being an important wide receiver who could possibly miss Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern, there could be more usage for Ohio State’s tight ends in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday. Don’t be surprised if Ruckert again finds the end zone in Indianapolis, because he seems to be a preferred target of Justin Fields if the Buckeyes reach the red zone. Of Ruckert’s 23 catches over the last two years, seven of those receptions have gone for touchdowns.

Even if the Ohio State tight ends don’t see any catches on Saturday, their fingerprints will be all over Ohio State’s offensive performance. The tight ends might not get the glory, but there is no doubt the offense of the Buckeyes wouldn’t be able to run as smoothly without guys like Ruckert, Farrell, and Hausmann.