The No. 8 player on this list has 27 career receptions to his name, but 24 of those came last year as a redshirt junior. Now in his fifth-and-final season as a Buckeye, he is looking to be a focal point in a passing offense that sure could use one.
No. 8 — Marcus Baugh, rSr. Tight End
Marcus Baugh has been a regular for the Buckeyes since the 2015 season when he was Nick Vannett’s backup. He only caught two passes that season, but played plenty as the team’s No. 2 tight end. Last year was his emergence as a pass-catching weapon for Ohio State. He caught 24 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Those were the best numbers for a Buckeye tight end since Jeff Heuerman had 26 catches for 466 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.
This season, however, Baugh could challenge all of Heuerman’s numbers from that season. With Kevin Wilson calling the plays, and both he and Ryan Day improving the passing game, every pass catcher on this team should be in a better position to make plays.
Wilson had an up-and-down history with tight ends at Indiana. They caught just 51 total passes over his final three seasons with the Hoosiers. If there is a player who deserves the ball, however, Wilson’s offense has shown that they’ll find him. Indiana tight end Ted Bolser caught 35 passes in 2013 and 41 in 2012. In 2008 at Oklahoma, tight end Jermaine Gresham caught 66 passes for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns.
While nobody — except for maybe Marcus Baugh — is expecting Gresham-type numbers this year, Wilson won’t discriminate. If he finds that Baugh can move the chains, then they’ll use him to do exactly that.
Had Baugh been healthy this spring, perhaps he could have shown enough to be higher on this list. Offseason shoulder surgery kept him out of any contact this spring, so Kevin Wilson is still learning what Baugh can do. To this point we have only seen flashes, but sometimes those flashes have been pretty bright.
What He Does Well
Marcus Baugh has gotten better each season as a blocker. That’s pretty much all he did in 2015, so it prepared him for the starter’s role last season. Baugh came to Ohio State as an athletic pass catcher who had never really spent many hours in a weight room. It has taken time to mold his natural abilities into an all-around tight end who can stretch the field as well as he can seal an edge.
Baugh is an outstanding outlet receiver on the sidelines. He can make a defender miss or drive through him for extra yards. He has improved as a route runner and his technique is now marrying well with his athleticism. Baugh can get down the seam or throw a head fake and turn it into a corner route with ease. Linebackers have trouble staying with him for too long.
He has made some fantastic catches in his time at Ohio State, and should add a few more to his highlight tape this year.
Marcus Baugh in 2017
This is a contract year. The NFL is watching, so expect the best Marcus Baugh you’ve ever seen. Kevin Wilson calls plays like a 9-ball master. He is thinking three or four plays ahead and setting up the defense with each call. Baugh should be a very happy camper in this offense, especially with his position coach calling the plays.
Not having a spring set him back some, but this will be his fifth fall camp, so he should be able to pick things up just fine. There are a lot of different direction that this Ohio State offense can go, and just about all of them are unproven. In Marcus Baugh, however, quarterback J.T. Barrett has a target that he is familiar with and could develop a strong connection with.
I think Baugh is a very difficult matchup for opposing defenses all over the field. He’ll get to show that in 2017.
What They Are Saying
“I haven’t seen Marcus Baugh yet live. It would be nice to see what he can bring to the table. I think the other tight ends had a good spring. That’s in my world as a tight ends coach. To me, I just think we’ve got a lot of talented players that can play and you just want to see hungry and how humble and driven they stay in the summer. You’re in a selfish world where, ‘How many times am I going to get the ball?’ or ‘How many times am I going to run it or throw it?’ or ‘Who’s going to start?’
“I just want to see our guys continue to get better. In the winter I was so impressed with the character and the quality of our kids and how they worked. I thought our spring has been more of that kind of production. I’d just like to see — can we maintain that kind of style through the summer and just be a hardworking, blue collar team? If you like your role, enhance it. If you don’t like your role, make it better.” — Kevin Wilson
“I don’t know. Everyone talks about blank slate. You hear opinions, but to me, just how hard are you going to go today? I try to as much as I can as a coach to be as sound as we can, but not give our kids so much information they can’t play hard. So I try to simplify and put them in good fundamental positions without overthinking. The old paralysis of analysis. You’ve got to play fast and block. How are your fundamentals playing fast? So I think I have a nice little way of presenting that to the guys. They kind of bought in.
“When they messed up, I didn’t go crazy. When they’re playing hard, I complimented how hard they’re playing. ‘Now listen, we want to clean this up.’ We’ve got a long way to go with that group. But Luke (Farrell) started straining and competing. He’s got a ways to go to be as good as we need him to be. He’s on track. A.J. (Alexander) started coming through more consistent. I’m excited to see what Marcus (Baugh) is going to be. Jake Hausmann was doing well. Got an ankle sprain that limited him a little, but that’s a good group right now. It improved, but it’s not where I want it to be and it’s not where it’s going to be. We’re going to get that group stronger.” — Kevin Wilson