Could This REALLY Be the Year?
Annual tight end talk looks serious this time around
By Rob Odgen
Often times the biggest improvement for a player comes between his freshman and sophomore seasons. The same can be said for coaches. Jim Tressel won a national championship in his second year with the Buckeyes. Urban Meyer did the same in his second year at Florida.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Tight end Jeff Heuerman is actually entering his third season as a Buckeye, but it will be his second season under Meyer. Heuerman was likely left feeling like a freshmen while trying to learn the in's and out's of Meyer's offense last season.
In his first year as a starter in 2012, Heuerman caught eight passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. Fellow tight end Nick Vannett grabbed nine passes for 123 yards.
Entering his second season under Meyer, Heuerman said trying to grasp the offense is a struggle he no longer faces.
"I feel 100 times more comfortable this year," he said. "Last year we were just learning where to line up. … The second year in the offense, actually knowing what to do rather than just lining up like last year. It has slowed down a lot."
Heuerman better be ready, because according to his coaches, he's going to be a lot more involved in the offense this year than he was in the past.
Earlier this offseason, Meyer called Heuerman and Vannett the best pair of tight ends he's ever coached and vowed to get them more involved in the passing attack.
On Monday, offensive coordinator Tom Herman said he challenged anyone in the country to have a better one-two punch at tight end than what the Buckeyes have.
Given both Meyer and Herman's history at previous stops, the tight-end talk appears to be more than lip service.
In 2009, Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez caught 68 balls for 850 yards and five touchdowns.
Ohio State hasn't had a receiver catch that many passes since David Boston had 85 receptions in 1998.
But even Hernandez's numbers can't compare to the ones that Rice tight end James Casey put up while Herman was the Owls' offensive coordinator in 2008.
The current Philadelphia Eagle hauled in 111 passes for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns. No, don't adjust your monitor, you read that right. 111 receptions.
Don't expect Heuerman to catch any amount close to that this season, especially because he might be sharing the field with Vannett.
Herman said they plan to use the two tight ends on the field simultaneously, and that he's been studying NFL teams that use two-tight end sets.
That's an idea that Heuerman can get excited about.
"We work really well together," he said. "This offense is so fast and up-tempo and demanding, especially on the tight ends, it's almost impossible for it to be run with just one tight end. Him and I compliment each other really well. It will be really fun to watch."
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