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Ohio State Tight Ends Set For Bigger Role

Ohio State has had a steady stream of NFL-caliber tight ends come through the program, but 2016 might be the season that position group finally becomes a focal point of the offense.

From Ben Hartsock to Ryan Hamby to Jake Ballard and Nick Vannett, every year seems to be billed as “the year” when it comes to tight end involvement in the Ohio State offense. After the Buckeyes wrapped up the third day of fall camp on Tuesday, both tight end Marcus Baugh and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner explained that his year really could be “that year” for the position.

Instead of simply saying that, yes, he’ll catch more passes, Baugh gave an explanation for why that might actually be true. The overall scheme of Ohio State’s offense won’t be getting an overhaul to showcase players like Baugh, but he explained that tweaks to the progressions on certain plays have been made to make the tight end the No. 1 option more often.

“Right now, I have a pretty good role in the offense I would say,” Baugh said. “Better than past years. But the way it’s looking right now I have a pretty good role in the passing game.

“We’ve changed some reads to where I’ll be the first read or we’ll change me if the first read is covered I’ll be the second read.”

Warinner, who is in his first season as the Buckeyes’ tight ends coach after switching from offensive line so that he could keep a better eye on the offense as a whole, said the point isn’t to get the ball to tight ends specifically. Instead, Ohio State wants to get the ball to playmakers, and it just so happens that the tight ends – and not just Baugh – or some of the more talented playmakers on the roster.

“Our No. 1 objective is to get the ball to playmakers, and as we develop this offense and go through training camp, we’re trying to find out who the consistent playmakers are,” Warinner said. “Marcus has shown that he can be one. So have some of the other tight ends. So more and more they become a primary receiver in the progression.”

When asked how many times Baugh has likely been the No. 1 target in his college career, Warinner wasn’t sure. He settled on “not too many.” As far as pure numbers go, Baugh, the only tight end on the roster who has played a down at Ohio State, made just two receptions last season. A year later he’s almost definitely in line for more production than that, but the depth at talent at tight end, coupled with a tweak to the offensive progressions, could actually (finally) lead to a big year for the Ohio State tight ends.

Tight End Notes:

  • Baugh said the young tight ends (Alexander is a redshirt freshman while Jake Hausmann, Luke Farrell and Kierre Hawkins are all true freshmen) have been ahead of the curve so far. “They’re all coming along. The freshmen are doing real good. They know more than I did when I was a freshman.”
  • Baugh said Hausmann is “a little more advanced” than the typical freshman physically and should be ready to play this season.
  • Alexander has been working as the No. 2 tight end so far in camp, but Hausmann is firmly in the mix to win that spot.
  • Warinner said his switch to being the tight ends coach has allowed him to keep a close eye on all the skill positions instead of just the offensive line in practice.

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