Heading into the 2016 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes have many talented options at the tight end position.
The Ohio State football’s 2016 recruiting class was one of the most celebrated ones in recent memory. Highlighting the class is five-star prospect and brother of former Buckeye Joey Bosa, defensive end Nick Bosa. Other high school stars rounding out this year’s class includes defensive end Jonathon Cooper, wide receiver Austin Mack, offensive tackle Michael Jordan, and running back Demario McCall.
From top to bottom the Buckeyes have a top five class on everyone’s charts, but there is one position in which the Buckeyes truly reloaded. That reloaded position in this year’s class is tight end.
The Buckeyes signed three tight ends: Jake Hausmann, Luke Farrell, and Kierre Hawkins. All three bring serious size and an ability to fit in Urban Meyer’s offense. The Buckeyes 2015 starting tight end was Nick Vannett. By most draft projections, he is an early round talent after catching 19 passes for the Buckeyes this past season. Surprisingly, he did not score a touchdown.
During Vannett’s rare moments when his number was called, he stepped up and made clutch catches at crucial moments. One of those moments most notably occurred in the 2014-15 season when caught a touchdown in last year’s national championship game versus Oregon.
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Vannett showed unique catching ability combined with great size, which might lead to his name being called during the first couple of rounds in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Buckeyes lack of use of Vannett in the receiving game was at times shocking and confusing to most Buckeyes fans. The majority of Buckeye fans can agree Vannett was underutilized this year and it will be hard to watch him go.
The most likely replacement for Vannett during the 2016 season is Marcus Baugh. He showed ability like Vannett as a blocker last season but will look to fill a bigger role going forward.
Having a solid tight end returning, although he has limited production, makes the three tight ends signing with the Buckeyes very interesting. Meyer does have a track record of getting TEs to the NFL most notably Super Bowl 50 champion Jeff Heuerman and troubled Aaron Hernandez.
Looking at the three signees, Farrell looks to be the best receiving tight end of the trio with a 6’6 frame. Hausmann is a solid prospect with a balanced game who will look to help the Buckeyes in the future. Hawkins appears to be the wildcard out of the three. He took snaps from pretty much every position on the field in high school, which could carry into his time with the Buckeyes.
The multiple positions Hawkins could end up playing includes tight end, wide receiver, defensive end, and linebacker. From the outward appearance, tight end looks to be a “log jam”, but knowing Meyer he will be able to find a spot for all three tight ends if their play dictates so.
If I was a 6’4-6’6 prospect who could run, I would definitely trust Meyer with my football career.