[This is the 14th in a series where The-Ozone looks back on each member of the 2018 signing class and the impact they had this past season, as well as the impact they could have this coming season.]
Tight end Jeremy Ruckert came to Ohio State from Lindenhurst High School in Lindenhurst, New York. He was the No. 2 prospect at his position in the 2018 class and the No. 37 player overall. He signed with OSU over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan, Stanford, Rutgers, and a dozen others. Ruckert was named an Army All-American.
Before he even arrived, there were expectations for Jeremy Ruckert. But those expectations were tempered by the fact that he was mostly a receiver in high school.
“It will be interesting because he’s very talented, but very much so in a skill setting as a big receiver and great in the passing game,” tight ends coach Kevin Wilson said last April. “Right now we’re talking weekly when we visit about what did you really do in workouts. I know you lifted, but what’s your body weight like? How many times are you benching 225? How strong are you getting? He has a body that I don’t want him to try to work so hard on getting strong because he’s kind of a long guy that I don’t want to have a high school young kid with a bad back.
“So I want him to get stronger, but I want him to be smart. It’s a developmental position, so for him to really play significantly, how strong is he in the blocking game? And how does he hold up, because he’s going to have to block defensive ends. We’ll get phenomenal opportunity in practice with who he matches up against to see where he stands. I think he’ll be in the mix to play early as a receiver. And to be a complete player, is he strong enough and mature enough to block.”
Ruckert did not enroll early, so when he arrived in the summer of 2018, he was fourth in line at tight end behind Luke Farrell, Rashod Berry, and Jake Hausmann. He eventually worked his way up to the third tight end in run packages, and also saw some time late in games as the lone tight end when throwing the ball was no longer really going to happen.
Ruckert played in 12 games and caught one pass for 13 yards last year, but his playing time increased throughout the season. He saw action in each of the Buckeyes’ final three games.
Ruckert entered Ohio State with a need to become a legitimate run blocker and that process was paying off by November and December.
So Now What
Every tight end on the roster last season is back again this season, but playing time is expected to increase this season for Jeremy Ruckert.
When he signed, Urban Meyer called Ruckert the best tight end prospect he had ever scouted, so you’d think Ryan Day could find a spot for him in his pass-friendly offense.
Luke Farrell will be a fourth-year junior this season and is the most complete tight end on the roster. He is the best run blocker as well, which means he will likely see more time than any other tight ends on the roster. The bigger question is whether or not Ruckert can move ahead of fifth-year senior Rashod Berry.
Even if he can’t move ahead of Berry, there will still be playing time for Ruckert this season. He is too skilled as a receiver to not have a plan for him in 2019.