Dealing With A Big Change

It has not been the ideal situation for Robby Schoenhoft as Ohio State has prepared for LSU in the BCS National Championship Game. Having endured a position change, the player who describes himself as a quarterback at heart is pondering what his future could entail with the Buckeyes.

NEW ORLEANS – Exactly one year ago, the future was all roses for Rob Schoenhoft.

With the two seniors ahead of him on the depth chart about to graduate, the former four-star prospect was in position to have a chance to take over the starting job under center for Ohio State. However, Todd Boeckman and his extra year of experience took that title and Schoenhoft was relegated to second-string duties.

From there, he held a tenuous grasp on the spot ahead of redshirt freshman Antonio Henton, who appeared to have passed him by the team's second conference game of the 2007 season. That hold appeared to solidify as Henton was arrested and temporarily suspended from the team, knocking him down the depth chart.

Then, a few days into the team's preparations for the BCS National Championship Game, the coaching staff approached Schoenhoft and informed him he would be switching to tight end on the scout team to help the team better prepare for the LSU Tigers.

Needless to say, he was less than thrilled.

"I was surprised, to be honest with you," he said. "Coach Tress is where he is now because he's a great coach and I will go with anything that he says, even if it's that. I was a little surprised and a little disappointed, but when a man with such great caliber who knows what he's talking about as well as he does, you understand what he's doing."

Until that point, Schoenhoft said, he did not think he was in a battle to remain the No. 2 quarterback. Henton said he did not see the position switch coming either.

In four games of action this season, Schoenhoft completed 17 of 25 passes for 129 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.

A quarterback for his entire life, Schoenhoft said he played tight end during one game as a junior in high school. The move was partially brought on by a hip flexor problem Schoenhoft has been battling, quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels said. In addition, he had been battling some arm problems that helped further the thought of moving him to tight end.

Henton has officially passed Schoenhoft on the depth chart, although there is not a picture of either of them in the team's BCS title game media guide. Schoenhoft describes the situation as a speed bump for him, while Henton said he was surprised one day to see his friend lining up at another position and wearing a purple jersey with the number 89 on it.

"I didn't feel bad about it," Henton said. "It was something the coaches felt like they needed to do. Robby accepted it, Robby is happy so I'm happy."

Head coach Jim Tressel has said the plan is to move Schoenhoft back to quarterback when spring practice begins, but the possibility exists that he could remain a tight end.

"I think he's a big athlete and wherever he would end up a permanent home, who knows? I know he has stepped in and hasn't hesitated one bit about it," OSU tight ends coach John Peterson said. "He's a 6-5, 200-plus physical athlete who can run. He's got great hands and time will tell. There's nothing pressing right now as far as his development and whether it's quarterback or tight end or wherever, he's worked hard."

Listed at 6-6, 244 pounds, Schoenhoft is roughly the same size as OSU's two primary tight ends. Both he and Peterson insist that he can catch and that he has the right frame for the spot, and his teammates have praised his natural athleticism.

Sophomore tight end J.D. Larson said Schoenhoft has caught on quickly to his new position.

"As a quarterback, he kind of puts his thoughts and his experiences into that position receiving-wise, so he was able to run great routes and pick apart the defense whether it was zone or man and run different types of routes," said Larson, adding that Schoenhoft is one of the best basketball players on the team. "From a blocking perspective, he definitely had to learn a few things at first but after awhile he was giving me pointers on blocking."

There's just one problem: Schoenhoft does not envision the switch becoming a permanent one. Should that become a reality, he might begin exploring other options including transferring.

"I'm a quarterback at heart," he said. "I love playing quarterback and that's what I came here for."

However, do not expect to hear Schoenhoft griping about the position change. He has approached the bowl season with the intent of doing his part to help the Buckeyes bring home a national title.

"I took it in full stride and realized that I can have a direct impact even more playing on the scout team," he said. "I've been there for two years already and playing for two weeks I can help the defense so much. LSU has two great tight ends. They need some help down there. If we shut down their tight ends I'll realize that I had an impact on that."

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