“Almost everything that is great has been done by youth…” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
Ohio State will begin spring football practice on March 8th. Heading into the 2016 college football season, Ohio State will have 44 players on its roster designated as either a redshirt freshman (21 of the 25 players signed in February 2015), or a true freshman. For a roster that can have only 85 scholarship players, Ohio State will have around 52% of its roster with no playing time experience. As former Ohio State Head Coach John Cooper used to say, “If a dog is going to bite you, it will bite you as a pup.”.
For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 16th, 2016. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.
7th – Tight End
Player Lost – Nick Vannett. Vannett exhausted his eligibility, and is preparing for the 2016 NFL Draft. Even though Vannett did not have as strong a senior season as he would have liked, Vannett had 19 receptions for 162 yards. Compare and contrast that to Marcus Baugh, who had 2 receptions for 32 yards, with the longest reception (27 yards) coming in The 2016 Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.
Returning Players/Incoming Players – Marcus Baugh (Redshirt Senior), A.J. Alexander (Redshirt Freshman), Rashod Berry (Redshirt Freshman).
A few things to keep in mind as it relates to this position group…
· Marcus Baugh is the starter, almost by default. Baugh enters the 2016 season with a career total of 3 receptions for 34 yards, and one touchdown. That is three more receptions and one more touchdown than any other scholarship tight end on the Ohio State roster. Baugh has had numerous off the field issues in the past. The coaching staff has maintained their patience with Baugh, and Baugh seems poised to conclude his Ohio State career as a starter in 2016.
· Neither A.J. Alexander or Rashod Berry played in 2015. Considering Alexander was coming off an injury sustained during his senior year of high school, and how Berry split time at multiple positions in high school, it is no surprise why Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer was reluctant to play either player in 2015.
· Reinforcements are on the way, but will not arrive until the summer. Ohio State signed three tight ends in Luke Farrell, Jake Hausmann, and Kierre Hawkins, but none of these players will be in the mix during spring practice. For both Alexander and Berry, the spring practices will be essential. Alexander and Berry will want to secure their positions on the depth chart, before any of the freshmen tight ends arrive on campus.
These questions, among others, will be on my mind once Ohio State spring practice begins March 8th.