A position that Ohio State has not utilized very much in the passing game the past few years has been the tight end. I mean, when you have Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, I guess you don’t really NEED to be using your tight ends — but the more the merrier, right? The Bucks have taken to the latter attitude this season, and it is paying off.
First and foremost: Jeremy Ruckert. The most experienced tight end on the roster, and one of the leaders of this team, Ruckert has always come in clutch. Between the touchdowns against Penn St. & Clemson last season, to his famous one-handed TD reception against Wisconsin in the 2019 Big Ten Championship, Ruckert has never shied away from the big moments.
He has stepped up this season as well. Deciding to come back for his senior season seems to be paying off. He already has 10 receptions for 121 yards and one TD on the year. This includes the four receptions for 40 yards and a score against Rutgers, near his hometown of Lindenhurst, NY.
While Ruckert was recruited for and is best known for his pass-catching abilities, his blocking skills have supremely stepped up over the past few seasons. Again, with having great receivers comes limited receptions for tight ends. Therefore, Ruckert has earned his playing time by blocking defenders to allow these receivers to shine. Combine both of these abilities, and you have one of the best tight ends in the conference, and in my opinion, the country.
Aside from the Buckeyes’ most well-known tight end, the young guys are stepping up in a big way, too. Sophomore Gee Scott Jr. has gotten a decent amount of playing time already this season. Switching from receiver to tight end during the spring, Scott is a unique size for a TE (6-foot-3, 225), which makes it difficult for defenses to contain him.
Being the 10th-best receiver in his recruiting class, obviously the guy has great hands. While he doesn’t get a ton of playing time, when he gets to be on the field, he makes it count. Scott has four receptions for 43 yards on the year, showing flashes of his speed and athleticism. It’s truly only a matter of time before he breaks free for a long TD reception — you heard it here first. He is only in his second year at OSU, so the more reps he gets, the better he will get, just like Henderson, Stroud, Burke, JSN, etc.
Next up is redshirt sophomore Cade Stover. With former TE Luke Farrell going pro, someone needed to fill his underappreciated role of a primarily blocking tight end. The former linebacker made the switch of positions last year, and has impressed coaches and teammates with his progress.
Playing linebacker, defensive end, and special teams in the past has given Stover a lot of different skills. Tight ends are a bit of a unique position, so it is valuable that he is good at a lot of things, even if he isn’t great at one specific thing. The fact that he already had a blocking foundation definitely eased the position change. Now, having worked on his route-running and receiving, he could be a threat to opposing defenses. Don’t count out Cade Stover!
Last, but certainly not least: Mitch Rossi! The fifth year TE/unicorn fullback has a feel-good story that will put a smile on your face. Initially walking on to the team as a freshman, Rossi has earned his way to being on scholarship. He has played in all 22 games the past two seasons as a member of special teams.
Rossi earned his first career TD reception against Rutgers on Saturday. While he is usually blocking as either a fullback or tight end, the biggest moment of his collegiate career came in the form of a one-yard TD, increasing the Buckeyes’ lead to 30-6. Coach Ryan Day was extremely happy for Rossi, stating how deserving he was of this moment. Who knows, maybe we will see some more TDs from him in the future!
Do you think this is the year of the tight ends at Ohio State?
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