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Column: Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert has something to prove this fall

Many outlets are omitting Ruckert from lists of the best tight ends in the country, which is only fueling the Buckeye heading into this fall.

CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Ohio State doesn’t target their tight ends all that much. Because of that, many people overlook the talent that the Buckeyes have had at tight end over the years. The general consensus is that because the Ohio State tight ends aren’t targeted all that often that they aren’t any good. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. If the Buckeyes didn’t produce quality tight ends, why have three been drafted since 2015?

The latest Buckeye tight end to be disrespected is Jeremy Ruckert, who could be the best Ohio State tight end since Rickey Dudley. Ruckert has already made a number of highlight reel catches in big games for the Buckeyes. Now, Ruckert is looking to make some people never forget his name, since they seem to be doing a good job at forgetting him right now.

Not that I put a lot of stock in what @BigGameBoomer thinks, since many of the lists from this account are absolute jokes. I mean, anyone who thinks that Condado is the best Mexican restaurant in Columbus has no idea what they are doing. Sparking a fire under Ruckert might be the best thing that troll account has ever done.

PFF is also sleeping on Ruckert. While there is no doubt that Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar is the best returning tight end in the country, Ruckert deserves to at least be somewhere in the top 10. Then again, it’s not surprising that PFF couldn’t get this right. It seems like every week during the year they are putting out game or season ratings that make no sense. I feel like they were paid off by Shea Patterson and others to highly exaggerate the impact they had on games.

Ruckert came to Ohio State as the No. 2-ranked tight end in the country coming out of high school, and drew comparisons to former Miami tight end Jeremy Shockey. While many were aware of the receiving prowess that Ruckert has, we didn’t really know much about his blocking. Ruckert certainly knows what is expected from a tight end when it comes to blocking now after three years with the Buckeyes, and he has improved greatly in that area.

One reason that Ruckert could be in for his most productive season at Ohio State is because of the talent the Buckeyes have at wide receiver. Guys like Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxson Smith-Njigba are going to demand attention this season, which should free up some space for Ruckert to do some damage.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another reason to buy stock in Ruckert this year is he could turn into a security blanket for C.J. Stroud, or whoever starts at quarterback for Ohio State this fall. With how great Ruckert’s hands are, expect the senior to be a prime target when the Buckeyes work their way into the red zone. Ruckert has a nose for the end zone, as evidenced by nine of his 28 catches in his Ohio State career ending up going for six points on the scoreboard for the Buckeyes.

The worst thing for the rest of the Big Ten is a motivated Ruckert. There are other tight ends in the conference, and around the country, who are perceived to be better because they are targeted more. Just because others get more catches than Ruckert, it doesn’t mean they are better players. Ohio State has so many weapons on offense, it is tough to get everybody the football as much as they want. While his targets are limited, Ruckert makes the most of the times his number is called.

In the end, it’s hard to imagine Ruckert not having the last laugh. Ruckert is undoubtedly one of the best pass-catching tight ends Ohio State has seen over the last few decades, and he has worked tirelessly to improve his blocking. Ruckert might not end up winning the awards and honors that some of the other “better” tight ends will, but Ruckert has his eyes on a bigger prize. Ohio State is the Big Ten favorite, and one of the few true threats around the country to make the College Football Playoff. Once Ruckert’s college career wraps up, expect him to be one of the first tight ends taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.

It’s highly likely that we don’t truly see the best of Jeremy Ruckert until he reaches the NFL and is part of an offense that utilizes tight ends more. Even if that’s the case, we should see Ruckert close out his Ohio State career with a bang. The talented tight end feels like he has more to give to Ohio State, and it sounds like the coaching staff has more opportunities to give to Ruckert this year. Don’t be surprised to see those who are forgetting about Ruckert now to be singing his praises this fall.