Today’s Topic: Is 2019 the Year Ohio State Throws to the Tight Ends?
I’ll be honest, part of me just wanted to be the first person on the Ohio State beat to ask the annual question about the Buckeye tight ends.
Another part of me, however, is wondering what is in store for the tight ends with new co-offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s influence on the Ohio State offense.
And after looking at the numbers at Oklahoma State where he was previously, utilizing the tight end is going to be something new for him.
In his six seasons as the offensive coordinator in Stillwater, the Cowboy tight ends caught a total of 79 passes. That’s an average of 13 per year, or about one per game.
In two years as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, Ryan Day saw the Buckeye tight ends catch 67 passes.
As the passing game coordinator, Yurcich will be involved in finding the best ways to utilize all of Ohio State’s pass catchers, including the tight ends. And few teams will have the talent at the position that the Buckeyes do in 2019.
Provided nobody transfers, Ohio State will return all four tight ends from this past season, and they will also be adding a true freshman in Cormontae Hamilton. The leaders of the group will be Luke Farrell and Rashod Berry, headed into their fourth and fifth seasons, respectively.
Farrell caught 20 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown in 2018, and was an outstanding blocker all season long. Berry caught nine passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns, but played more than his statistics would lead you to believe.
Rising fourth-year junior Jake Hausmann should also return. The player that could be ready to take the next step, however, will be rising sophomore Jeremy Ruckert. A 5-star signee in 2018, Ruckert caught just one pass as a freshman, but with the way Yurcich spaces his offense, you would think there would be plenty of room for him to work in 2019.
With the Buckeyes losing three veteran receivers, production is going to need to come from somewhere. There are receivers replacing the departed playmakers, but there is probably no better time than 2019 for the OSU offense to use the tight ends more than they have in the past.
I’m not one of those people who thinks the tight end doesn’t exist as a pass catcher at Ohio State. Marcus Baugh caught two passes a game in his two seasons as a starter, for instance, but I also think there could be 40 or 50 catches for the Buckeye tight ends next season if Ryan Day wants there to be.
Kevin Wilson is the offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, so you know he’s going to battle for his tight ends.
I wouldn’t expect the tight ends to disappear like they did at Oklahoma State, but I am interested to see how they are integrated into Yurcich’s passing game (which will also be Ryan Day’s passing game).