From the days of John Frank and Rickey Dudley and even Darnell Sanders, Ohio State has been blessed with a great tradition of tight ends. Despite Coach T's occasionally skewed perspective that these guys are "offensive linemen who can catch a pass" (wait – don't we think of fullbacks the same way?), we are still blessed with an enviable cadre of athletes manning the TE positions.
And since Coach T also likes to run two tight ends at the same time (even more offensive linemen that way), this is a position that demands to be constantly re-stocked at a high level of quality. And we've got ‘em.
We've got Ben Hartsock, who is putting in his last season of a fine career. Good blocker and under-rated receiver. We've got Ryan Hamby, who will be coming back for his junior season next year. Good receiver and an under-rated blocker. We've got two great athletes whose light has been hidden under a bushel so far: Stan White and Redgie Arden. Stan was a high school All-American as a linebacker/fullback/tight end. We haven't seen where he is destined to line up, ultimately. And Redgie Arden was a one-time Ohio Defensive Player of the Year who is a beast when he blocks and surprisingly nimble when he goes out for a pass. He has had trouble getting out of the doghouse after a few off-the-field slip-and-falls, but this is one high quality athlete.
And then we have Louis Irizarry. He is a wide receiver in a tight end body. He is a guy that can change the offense and change a game. He is someone that can actually give OSU an offense. And someone you will see a lot of for the next three years.
For the sake of full disclosure, we are also carrying on the roster: Jason Caldwell, a junior scholarship player, David Andrews, a sophomore walk-on from Miami Trace and Jordan Hoewischer, a freshman walk-on from Sidney. Caldwell was moved to the OL (not very far away) and back, but is not seen as an impact player, with one year of eligibility remaining. Conversely, Hoewischer turned down some D-I offers to walk on at OSU and might see some action before he leaves Columbus.
But let's rely on the guys we recruited to play here. With all the two TE set and the intermittent reliance on short pass patterns to the tight end, we need at least "a pair and a spare". (OK, so it didn't work for our tailbacks but I covered that a couple weeks back…) The "pair" next year should be junior Ryan Hamby and sophomore Louis Irizarry. That gives us great passing targets and good-if-not-great blockers. The "spare" might be Redgie Arden, who could excel as a blocker. Stan White? If the coaches don't know where he's going to play, how should I know?
So, suddenly, we are not that long on quality bodies at the TE position. Ignoring the fact that there could be position switches (RJ Coleman was an All-American TE in high school, after all, and Marcel Frost will excel wherever he plays), we need at least one – and perhaps - two new recruits here.
We have a potentially great one in commit Chad Hoobler from Carrollton who made some Top 100 lists last year. He is a terrific athlete who should be able to meet The Standard as both a blocker and receiver. The recruiting strategists are still fooling with the exciting Rory Nicol from Pennsylvania so there's an outside shot there, but nowhere else does there appear to be a TE recruit on the horizon.
And to look further down the road…there's not a TE listed in Ohio's Future Stars' top 40 for the junior class. A couple of early names to watch include Cleveland Glenville's Brandon Morrison, St. Ignatius' Jim Ramella, and Steve Anderson from Canton Central Catholic. But none of these guys are in the league (at this time) of an Irizarry or a Hartsock or even a Hamby.
So…Dr. Recruitnik sez not to expect the unexpected in adding to our tight end inventory. If we can pull a Rory Nicol or another national type into the boat, we will take him. Otherwise, we will look to next year to re-stock and maybe move current non-contributors over – like Coleman or Frost.
Hey – maybe Frank Morton can line up there…