Coach: Tim Hinton (fourth year)
2014 BSB Final Grade: B
Somewhat of a forgotten position at Ohio State, the tight ends still managed to deliver when called upon this season.
Backup Nick Vannett, playing more snaps because of an injury to senior Jeff Heuerman, caught a combined four passes in the two playoff games and found the end zone against the Ducks. Still, he caught more than two passes in a game just once this season, and that came against Kent State in September.
Limited by a foot injury, Heuerman didn’t catch any passes in the postseason, but he was still effective as both a leader and a player throughout the season.
However, it would be foolish to judge this group solely by pass-catching numbers. The blocking OSU received from its tight ends was some of the best in the country, and the limited catches came partly because of Heuerman’s injury and because of the emergence of playmakers like Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Smith and Mike Thomas.
- 17 catches, 202 yards, 12.2 ypc, 2 TDs
81 Nick Vannett (6-6, 260, Sr.)
- 19 catches, 11.6 yards, 5 TDs
85 Marcus Baugh (6-4, 252, Soph.)
- 1 catch, 2 yards, TD
86/5 Jeff Heuerman (co-captain)
The No. 1 thing Ohio State will need is depth. The Buckeyes welcome in Rashod Berry and A.J. Alexander for the fall, but in spring the only scholarship tight ends will likely be Vannett and Baugh, barring any personnel changes. Vannett stepped nicely into a starting role last year when Heuerman was dinged up, but Baugh saw very limited duty, though his only catch was a touchdown grab against Kent State.
Player On The Spot
Baugh. The No. 3 tight end in the country out of California in the recruiting class of 2013, Baugh got off to an inauspicious start thanks to a pair of alcohol-related citations, though he appears to have gotten out of the doghouse in the meantime. He has a ton of talent and was brought to Ohio State to be an elite pass catcher, but he struggled doing what he does best early in his time in Columbus. Combine that with being at a spot with a pair of extremely talented and dependable veterans in Heuerman and Vannett and the opportunity to get on the field just hasn’t been there for Baugh. Now it is.
Spring Is A Success If…
Baugh steps forward. There isn’t much worry from this corner if Vannett can handle the starting job after he did so with aplomb during the 2014 season. His rise made the Buckeyes comfortable with using two-TE sets, but the offense doesn’t need more than one tight end given the plethora of options elsewhere. If Vannett is ready to go and keeps making strides, especially in a pass-catching sense, he can handle that spot, but depth is the key concern. Seeing Baugh uses his considerate tools to become a player Hinton knows he can depend on consistently, the Buckeyes will feel good here.
Spring Is A Failure If…
Anyone gets injured. There isn’t a ton of depth here, obviously, and an injury to Vannett and Baugh would likely leave the staff concerned given that half of the position come the season opener will be composed of true freshmen as things stand. Seeing someone go down would really limit the options and leave uncertainty going into the fall.