We opened this five-part series with a look at the offensive backs and receivers. We continue today with the tight ends and offensive linemen.
Coming up, we will get inside the huddle on the defensive line and at linebacker.
Then, we will examine the secondary and specialists.
Finally, we will tie all of this data together.
Here is a position-by-position look at OSU's scholarship status and prospects at the tight end and offensive line positions with returning players listed by seniority. Walk-ons who were with the team at the end of spring practice are also listed.
(All class designations are 2004 eligibility; starters marked with an asterisk.)
* In Limbo (1): Louis Irizarry (So.).
* Walk-On (1): Jordan Hoewischer (R-Fr.).
* Analysis: Ben Hartsock's departure leaves this job open and it looked like Hamby, who played extensively last year, and Irizarry, who used a year of eligibility but only played in seven games, would probably split time here for new position coach John Peterson.
But then Irizarry was jailed in early May after his arrest on a felony robbery charge was also deemed a violation of his probation from a January assault conviction. OSU athletic director Andy Geiger announced that if the pending charges were proven true both Irizarry and running back Ira Guilford, also charged in this latest incident, would be "gone."
That could be a devastating blow to the depth at this position as well as the offense as Irizarry (6-5, 235) was expected to stretch defenses as a pass catching tight end.
Hamby (6-5, 240) has worked hard to improve his blocking. He was fifth on the team in receptions with 18 for 190 yards and three touchdowns last year. With OSU using two-tight end sets almost 40 percent of the time, he was on the field alongside Hartsock quite a bit.
With Irizarry likely out for at least this season, that could be the break Caldwell (6-5, 265) has been looking for. He looked sharp at times in the spring. Consistency and injuries have kept Caldwell from making his mark. Maybe they will use him as a designated blocking tight end this year.
It is also possible that sophomore Stan White Jr. (6-3, 238) or junior Redgie Arden (6-4, 240) will move back to tight end. White repped mostly at fullback and Arden spent the spring at defensive end.
Hoewischer (6-4, 240) also made several impressive grabs in the spring and could get playing time as a result of Irizarry's absence and/or departure.
The new guys, Hoobler (6-3, 225) and Nicol (6-5, 245), bring tremendous promise. Hoobler could also play at linebacker if they determine they need help there (not likely now, of course). Nicol was considered one of the nation's top tight ends out of Beaver, Pa.
* Still Looking?: With Irizarry's future with OSU hanging by a thread, it seems likely that OSU will have to take another tight end in the 2005 class.
Possibilities include Cleveland St. Ignatius' Jim Ramella (6-3, 220) and Kentucky's James McKinney (6-4, 255), although he has a soft verbal to Michigan. Another possibility could be West Virginia‘s Derek Hardman (6-6, 260), although some view him as an OL prospect.
* In The Fold (11): LS Kyle Andrews (Sr.), OG Mike Kne (Sr.), C Nick Mangold* (Jr.), LT Rob Sims* (Jr.), OG Andree Tyree (Jr.), OT R.J. Coleman (Soph.), OT Doug Datish (Soph.), OT T.J. Downing (Soph.), OT Tim Schafer (Soph.), OT Kirk Barton (R-Fr.), OT Steve Rehring (Fr.).
* Medical Waiver (1): OG Adam Olds (Jr.).
* Walk-Ons (8): OT John McLaughlin (Sr.), C Steve Winner (Jr.), OG John Conroy (Jr.), LS Drew Norman (Soph.), OL Caesar Buie (R-Fr.), OL Daniel Dye (R-Fr.), LS Dimitrious Makrides (R-Fr.). OL Tyler Whaley (R-Fr.).
* Analysis: OSU loses three starters (guards Adrien Clarke and Alex Stepanovich and tackle Shane Olivea). The Buckeyes will build upon Mangold (6-4, 280) at center and Sims (6-4, 305) at left tackle. They each have extensive experience over the last two years and could be among the Big Ten's best over the next two years. They each had outstanding springs and branded themselves as leaders up front. Sims showed he is a strong pass protector as well as a fine run blocker.
Kne (6-4, 300) is a former walk-on who probably locked down the left guard position in the spring. He is a good pulling guard who can lead the way on running plays. He missed the last part of the season due to injury, but has also played extensively as a backup and in the Jumbo package over the last two seasons.
It seemed that Datish (6-5, 290) had locked down the right guard job, while Schafer (6-5, 290) had nosed out Downing (6-5, 300) for the right tackle spot. Datish was steady much of the spring and showed that run blocking is his forte. The competition will continue well into fall camp at that right tackle spot and others may also be auditioned there.
Olds (6-4, 290) underwent hip surgery, but was unable to come back. OSU head coach Jim Tressel indicated he will pursue a medical waiver, allowing him to remain on financial aid and for OSU to "re-issue" his scholarship.
Tyree (6-3, 300) looked good to great at times as a guard in the Scarlet and Gray Game. He played with a high motor in that game. Coleman (6-5, 285) is also listed as a backup guard at the end of spring ball. Barton (6-6, 280) missed all but a week of spring practice due to injury and was unable to make his case at tackle.
Maybe one of the incoming freshmen -- most notably Person (6-4, 300) or Mitchum (6-6, 275) -- will push for a two-deep spot this season. Rehring (6-8, 315) enrolled early for spring ball. He is somewhat of a raw prospect, who could become a real player within a year or two. Skinner (6-5, 280) is just an all around solid player as well.
* Looking Hard: OSU only loses Kne after this coming season. But I think the Buckeyes still need to add three or four more offensive linemen because they will lose four of their current OL after 2005.
Obviously, they already have the talented Boone (6-8, 300), from Division I state runner-up Lakewood St. Edward, in the fold. He is projected among the nation's best OL in 2004. The Buckeyes also added Lancaster's Cordle (6-5, 285), who verbaled in late March.
In Ohio, some other key names include Cincinnati Wyoming's Robert Brewster (6-5, 320), Warren Harding's Rocco Cirroni (6-7, 250), Springfield North's Kevin Mahoney (6-6, 295) and Westerville South's Phillip Pollard (6-5, 260). None have been offered yet, however.
Outside Ohio, OSU has offers on the table for New Jersey's Eugene Monroe (6-7, 320), Oklahoma's Craig Roark (6-3, 280) and New Jersey's Brian Roche (6-5, 280). Nebraska may be the school to beat for Roark. Virginia and Penn State loom large for Monroe. Roche has a ton of offers as well, but plans an unofficial visit to OSU.