The Big Board: Tight Ends, Offensive Line

Here is the second installment of the midseason edition of The Big Board. Today, we examine the personnel at the tight end and offensive line positions for Ohio State. The line is led by left tackle Rob Sims (pictured), a veteran of 20 starts. Plus, we look at key prospects at both positions.

We are back with the second installment of The Big Board, my position-by-position look at the Ohio State football team.

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 are on this week's roster are also listed.

(All class designations are 2004 eligibility; starters marked with an asterisk.)

Tight End

* In The Fold (3): Ryan Hamby* (Jr.), Marcel Frost (R-Fr.), Rory Nicol (Fr.).

* Walk-On (1): Jordan Hoewischer (R-Fr.).

* Verbals For 2005 (0): None.

* Analysis: Hamby (6-5, 250) has stepped into the void created by Ben Hartsock's departure. He actually worked quite a bit alongside Hartsock in two-tight end sets last year, catching 18 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns. He was fifth on the team in receptions last year. Through three games, he is third on the team in catches with six for 91 yards and a score. He has worked hard to improve his blocking and become a complete tight end.

Nicol (6-5, 245) was pressed into service immediately upon his arrival from Beaver, Pa. He has yet to catch a pass, but has played in all three games. He was considered one of the nation's top tight end prospects a year ago.

Nicol likely benefited from a preseason injury to Frost (6-5, 255), who moved from defensive end to tight end in preseason camp. Frost is a large, agile athlete who could become a star at tight end. It is hoped he will be available for the rest of the season after missing the first three games.

Hoewischer (6-4, 250) made several impressive grabs in the spring and could get playing time.

Of course, the Buckeyes were hoping former prep All-American Louis Irizarry would develop into a Kellen Winslow Jr.-type offensive threat at tight end. But Irizarry was suspended from the team and the university after a felony robbery arrest in the spring. It seems unlikely that he will ever play for the Buckeyes again.

* Still Looking?: The Buckeyes seem to be in the market for at least one tight end in this class. Some of the key names include Florida's Richard Gordon (6-4, 245) and Georgia's Stephen Gowland (6-4, 220).

Florida, Florida State, Nebraska, N.C. State and Miami (Fla.) are all in the running for Gordon (all but Miami have also offered). Gowland has offers from OSU and Wake Forest and is also looking at Auburn and Ole Miss.

Springfield South's Nate Miller (6-4, 230) may be the top name in Ohio.

Offensive Linemen

* In The Fold (15): LS Kyle Andrews (Sr.), RG Mike Kne* (Sr.), OT John McLaughlin (Sr.), C Nick Mangold* (Jr.), LT Rob Sims* (Jr.), OG Andree Tyree (Jr.), OT R.J. Coleman (Soph.), LG Doug Datish* (Soph.), OT T.J. Downing (Soph.), RT Tim Schafer* (Soph.), OT Kirk Barton (R-Fr.), OT Steve Rehring (Fr.), OG Kyle Mitchum (Fr.), OG Ben Person (Fr.), Jon Skinner (Fr.).

* Medical Waiver (1): OG Adam Olds (Jr.).

* Walk-Ons (9): C Steve Winner (Jr.), OG John Conroy (Jr.), LS Drew Norman (Soph.), OL Caesar Buie (R-Fr.), OL Daniel Dye (R-Fr.), LS Dimitrios Makridis (R-Fr.). OL Tyler Whaley (R-Fr.), Nick Lembech (Fr.), Drew Parry (Fr.).

* Verbals For 2005 (3): Kevin Bemoll, Alex Boone, Jim Cordle.

* Analysis: Sims (6-4, 310) now has 20 career starts, the most among OSU offensive linemen. He is the anchor of the line at left tackle, where he is a strong pass protector and run blocker.

Mangold (6-4, 290) started the final 10 games of last season when Alex Stepanovich moved to guard. He is, perhaps, the leader of the line at center, where he is considered one of the Big Ten's best.

Kne (6-4, 303) is a former walk-on locked down the open 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.

Datish (6-5, 295) is the clear starter at left guard, a position he won with a strong showing in the spring. Run blocking is his forte.

Schafer (6-5, 290) won a close battle with Barton and Downing for the starting nod at right tackle. He had a strong fall camp and was among the line's top performers in the first three games.

Offensive coordinator/line coach Jim Bollman seems intent on using Barton (6-6, 305) and Downing (6-5, 305) in a regular rotation at RT and RG, respectively, giving himself a solid seven-man rotation up front.

Three other reserves are listed in the two-deep. McLaughlin (6-6, 300), a walk-on converted to scholarship this year, backs up Sims at LT. Winner (6-6, 290), who still is a walk-on, sits behind Mangold at center. And Conroy (6-3, 295), also a walk-on, backs up Datish. It is likely, however, that Datish would play center if something happened to Mangold.

Olds (6-4, 290) underwent hip surgery, but was unable to come back. He has received 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 spring, but a summer injury kept him out of fall camp and has hampered his progress. Coleman (6-5, 295) is also still looking to claim a spot in the two-deep as well.

It seems unlikely that any of the talented incoming freshmen will play this season. Rehring (6-8, 315) is listed at LT, Mitchum (6-6, 275) is penciled in at LG, Person (6-4, 300) is at RG and Skinner (6-5, 280) is at RT.

Andrews (5-11, 245) is in his third year as the long snapper.

* Still Looking?: Maybe. The Buckeyes have a great start on this class with Boone (6-8, 300), Cordle (6-5, 285) and Bemoll (6-5, 295). Boone, a standout at Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward, is ranked as the nation's sixth-best OL and Ohio's No. 2 overall prospect by He picked OSU over Michigan and is considered a prototype tackle prospect.

Cordle has developed a resume as a great run blocker at Lancaster, Ohio. He projects as a guard. Bemoll, who preps at Mission Viejo, Calif., could project as either a tackle or a guard.

OSU has rebuilt its depth on the OL and, with these verbals, would have a solid 15-man contingent on scholarship next year. However, if the Buckeyes can find one borderline great offensive lineman to accept an offer, it is my contention they will pull that trigger.

OSU offered a scholarship to Illinois' Dan Doering (6-6, 300), but he seems to be a long shot.

Some of the other potential prospects who have reportedly been offered include Florida's Ronnie Wilson (6-4, 331), Kentucky's Cory Zirbel (6-7, 301), Georgia's Charles Jackson (6-7, 265) and Florida's Chris Barney (6-5, 315).

Jackson, ranked 13th nationally by, also wants to play basketball. He also lists Auburn, Georgia Tech and Penn State as his top choices with OSU.

Zirbel, ranked 14th nationally by, seems to be a long shot. He lists Michigan, Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma as his top three.

Miami (Fla.) remains the leader for Barney, although he says he may also try and check out Oklahoma, OSU and N.C. State.

Wilson made an official visit to N.C. State for the OSU game. He also plans trips to Pittsburgh, Florida and OSU for the Michigan game.

Looking ahead to next year, there will be several talented offensive linemen in Ohio. Some key names: Pickerington North's Justin Boren (6-4, 285), Springfield South's Lee Tilley (6-7, 295), Cleveland Glenville's Bryant Browning (6-4, 290) and Canton GlenOak's Ryan Palmer (6-6, 295).

Here are the archives from the previous installments of the midseason edition of The Big Board:

Part 1: QBs, RBs and Receivers

Buckeye Sports Top Stories