All four of Ohio State’s tight ends from last season have returned and all four were able to take part in spring ball.
After being named the Unit of the Offseason by the strength coaches, the Buckeye tight ends continued their stellar performances throughout spring practice.
We already asked in jest this spring and winter if this was the year the Buckeye tight ends were going to be used in the passing game, so we won’t venture down that road again.
Just know that the coaches really like the talent level and the versatility of the entire group.
89 Luke Farrell, rJr (6-6 250)
13 Rashod Berry, rSr (6-4 255) OR
88 Jeremy Ruckert, Soph (6-5 250)
81 Jake Hausmann, rJr (6-4 245)
While all of the tight ends returned from last season, Jake Hausmann did battle some injuries this spring, which he has done throughout his career. With the competitive nature of the tight end room and the talent in it, missing time for any reason can be troublesome for a player. For Hausmann, that was the case this spring, giving sophomore Jeremy Ruckert even more ground than his skill set was already going to earn. The Buckeyes will add another tight end this summer in Cormontae Hamilton, making the depth chart even more crowded for Hausmann to maneuver.
“[Luke Farrell] is a really good player. He’s worked very, very hard. He cares a lot. He’s more talented than people think. He’s very, very steady. Not flashy. He’s been our most consistent player. I think Rashod is our strongest, and most dynamic player. And then Ruckert has the most upside. Jake had a slight little tweak, but he’s been doing well. With those four guys, we’ve been playing them. They can all flex out. They’re all strong enough now to come inside. We’re playing sometimes two of them on the field a lot. When two of those guys come on the field, we can still flex them out. In our day and age of tight end, we’re looking for receiving type players who became tough enough and big enough to block.” — Tight ends coach and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson breaking down the Ohio State tight end group.
As Kevin Wilson said, Rashod Berry is the Buckeyes’ most dynamic tight end. We have seen that dynamism in action before, but probably not as often as everyone would like. Jeremy Ruckert has more potential than perhaps any tight end at Ohio State since Rickey Dudley, and neither Dudley or Ruckert had played much tight end — or any — before coming to college. Last year was Ruckert’s first experience at the position, so he’s learning every day. Berry is a tremendous athlete and a former basketball player — not unlike Dudley — and he gives the Buckeyes two rare athletes at tight end.
Jeremy Ruckert and Rashod Berry found themselves as the second tight end in the formation quite a bit this spring, while Luke Farrell was the guy attached to the offensive line. Expect that to continue this season, as Berry and Ruckert will be seen in the backfield, in the slot, and motioning around as they look for favorable matchups. Together, the three of them should work seamlessly together.
It’s not every day that a team returns everybody at a position from the year before, but the Buckeye tight ends are one such position. That even includes walk-ons Derrick Malone and Brock Davin. The four scholarship tight ends could all be considered veterans by now, including sophomore Jeremy Ruckert and fourth-year junior Jake Hausmann, who haven’t played nearly as much as fifth-year senior Rashod Berry or fourth-year junior Luke Farrell. Farrell started 10 games last season, and Berry started the other four. Farrell emerged as the team’s top tight end last season and has only gotten better.
The Buckeyes spent a lot of time this spring working with “12 personnel,” meaning two tight ends and one running back. Ohio State has always had this capability, and they did it some last season, but the reasons for doing it this spring is because the tight ends had earned the long look. Not playing two tight ends much in the past (outside of running downs) was a product of the Buckeyes having some very talented receivers, and if you’re going to put an extra tight end on the field, somebody else has to leave. This spring, the coaches were beginning to think that there will be opportunities for more two tight end sets this season because the gap between the second-best tight end and the third-best wide receiver isn’t as wide as it used to be. And that’s not because of the receivers regressing.