Positional Previews: The Tight Ends by @justin_golba

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There has been a lot of talk this offseason about the powerful Ohio State offense. From the best quarterback battle any fan could have asked for, to the Heisman candidate running back Ezekiel Elliott, to the position change of Braxton Miller, this spring has been highly profiled and has excited Ohio State fans everywhere for the upcoming season. However, there is one position that has not gotten the attention that the rest of the offense has received. The tight ends. This is a very talented group of proven and unproven talent, mixed with veteran leadership and youthful optimism. The tight ends are exciting because their production since Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus in 2012 has increased every year. Catches, touchdowns, and targets have gone up each year since Meyer took over and with the tight end group that Ohio State has this year that does not look to be changing any time soon. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the tight ends that will suit up in the Scarlet and Gray this year.

The Starter: Nick Vannett

Nick Vannett is the guy. Vannett, a fifth year senior who just recently earned his degree from Ohio State, has been watching, learning and taking his reps behind Jeff Heuerman for the past two years and now it is his turn. He really broke out last year towards the end of the year, with 2 catches and a big touchdown grab in the National Championship. Standing at 6’6 and 260 pounds, Vannett is a great combination of speed, size, and sure hands along with his great route running and tremendous work ethic. He is also a fantastic blocker which will help the highly anticipated Ohio State rushing attack immensely. It will be interesting to see how well he adjusts to all the playing time he will get as the go to tight end. Nick Vannett is due for his breakout year and he can also be a dark horse in Ohio State’s run for a repeat of the national championship. Expect a 1st or 2nd team All-Big Ten selection in his future.

The Back-up: Marcus Baugh

As a four star prospect out of high school, his coaches and fellow players think his potential is through the roof. Baugh is 6’5 and 255 pounds and is a very difficult match up for opponents due to his overwhelming size and notable speed. He also has great hands and can block very well to help the running game even more. Vannett even went as far to say, “He’s probably the most athletic guy in our room” which is extremely high praise for the young tight end. He is not as strong as the coaching staff would like but due to him only being a sophomore, he can work on that throughout time. Although he has been cited multiple times for underage drinking and has been suspended two times by the team, most recently two games at the beginning of last year, coaches have said that he has matured noticeably since his suspension. He did not play in the spring game but he has had a solid spring of practice and has made huge strides towards reaching his full potential as a tight end. As long as he can stay on the field this year he will get plenty of playing time with Urban Meyer’s love for a two tight end set and his incredible athletic abilities.

The freshman: A.J. Alexander and Rashod Barry

These two young true freshman will arrive in Columbus and immediately look for playing time. Depending on how well Baugh adjusts to his new role, these two guys may have a chance to fight for the backup spot. A.J. Alexander is a 6’4, 220 pound tight end/H-back, who said during his recruitment and after he committed that he would be used at H-back, but is now being looked at as more of a tight end due to his size and that he can play sooner at tight end rather than at H-Back, especially after the emergence of Jalin Marshall last year. He has superb speed and sure hands due to his wide receiver experience in high school. He is coming off a torn ACL during his senior season, and paired with the certainty of Nick Vannett starting at tight end, that could be enough for the coaching staff to redshirt him this year, recover fully, and then compete for the starting spot in 2016. If he does not redshirt, look for him to get some playing time in special teams and maybe even a couple snaps at tight end. The next new kid on the block is Rashod Barry. A defensive end in high school, he has been leaning towards moving to tight end before the beginning of the season due to the chance of him getting more playing time sooner. He stands at 6’5 and 250 pounds, and just adds to the tall, strong, and athletic flock of tight ends. Both Alexander and Barry are terrific athletes and have the potential to be phenomenal tight ends in the Big Ten, and, if they do not redshirt, can make a significant impact on special teams this season with their size and speed.

Projected Depth Chart:
1) Nick Vannett
2) Marcus Baugh
3) AJ Alexander
4) Rashod Barry

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