Late last season, freshman linebacker Cade Stover moved to defensive end. It was written about, in case you missed it.
This winter, Stover — who played in four games last year and redshirted — was ten moved from the defensive line to tight end. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman tight end Cormontae Hamilton caught the return flight to defensive line.
In spring practice No. 1 on Monday, Stover was already making plays at tight end in 7-on-7 drills. Hamilton, who appears to now be at defensive tackle, will have to wait until the pads go on before he gets his first real opportunity to make some plays.
When a player moves, it is generally a need to meet desired position numbers by the coaching staff. For example, the Buckeyes are pretty deep at defensive end, but will be losing two fifth-year senior tight ends after this season. They are also relatively thin at defensive tackle, which made the move of Hamilton a possibility.
“I think both of those guys have a chance to be really good players for us this year,” head coach Ryan Day said on Monday. “We looked at their skill set and brought them in and talked them through and suggested that we see a skill set in them that maybe they don’t see on their own. And ask them what their input was. And both of them were excited about being presented with the new challenge.”
What is it that Day and his coaches saw in both players that made them candidates to move?
“I think Cade, when you look at his skill set, his basketball background and his spatial awareness and things like that, his toughness, we think that he projects into being a really good tight end,” Day said. “And vice versa. Cormontae, Coach [Larry] Johnson worked with him in camp and saw what he could do on the defensive line.
“And just watching him on the scout team, we thought he had chance to play really good in terms of tackle or a defensive end. He could do both. We’re going to see what happens this spring. It’s a new challenge for these guys, but the skill sets we see, we think there’s a future for both of those guys.”
Successful position changes at Ohio State, or really anywhere in college football, are nothing new.
Chris Gamble is a well-known example in 2002, playing both ways in helping the Buckeyes to a BCS National Championship. Zach Boren moved from fullback to middle linebacker during the season in 2012 to help that team go undefeated.
And long before Cade Stover earned comparisons to Sam Hubbard, it was Hubbard moving from linebacker to tight end to defensive end.
Each time, however, if the player isn’t in favor of the move, it will be impossible to get them to play to their full potential.
As it concerns Stover and Hamilton, however, that hasn’t been a concern.
“I think they’re both young and we brought them in and talked them through the whole process. And certainly aren’t going to force something down their throat, something that it was a back and forth there and tried to get their feedback,” Day explained.
“I think both of those guys really wanted to get on the field as soon as they could. And talking it through, in the end it was their decision. It wasn’t ours. And I think if you own the decision, then you are more likely to embrace it more and to run with it. And I think both of those guys are going to do that.”