Stoneburner, Staff Say He's No Tight End

Now that Ohio State coaches can comment on Jake Stoneburner, the message has come through loud and clear: they do not plan to use their big, fast new target as a tight end. Those statements have to be music to the ears of Stoneburner, who is going to great lengths to prove that he can be a wideout at OSU.

Darrell Hazell would like to respectfully disagree with right now. So would Jacob Stoneburner and John Peterson.

No, we didn't do anything wrong. It's just that if you take a gander at Stoneburner's profile, you'll see that the rangy Dublin (Ohio) Coffman product is listed as a tight end. He's the fourth-ranked tight end in the nation – a fine accomplishment, to be sure – but he's listed as a tight end nonetheless.

Hazell has other ideas.

"He is not a tight end," the Buckeye receivers coach said Wednesday. "He's a receiver. He's a wide receiver who because of his size sometimes people label him as a tight end, but he's a true wideout at 6-5."

And good luck to the coach who tries to pry Stoneburner away from Hazell, who has a history of poaching players for his position that goes back to guys like Ted Ginn Jr., who came in as a cornerback, and Anthony Gonzalez, who came in as a safety, as well as current Buckeyes Devon Torrence and Grant Schwartz.

Luckily enough for Hazell, the man with whom he'd most likely have to battle for Stoneburner's services, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator John Peterson, says he won't be picking that fight any time soon.

"Jake is a big, strong, tremendously talented wide receiver, and we recruited him here to be a wide receiver," Peterson said.

That must be music to Stoneburner's ears. Many have taken a look at his 6-5, 225-pound frame and immediately figured that he would be a lock to move to the tight end spot at the next level. However, Stoneburner seems to agree with his future coaches that he'd like to spend the rest of his career at the wideout spot.

"I don't really see myself as a true blocking tight end like they have right now because I'm not big enough," he said.

Current Buckeye tight ends Jake Ballard and Rory Nicol do outweigh Stoneburner quite a bit, checking in at 255 and 250 pounds, respectively, giving credence to Stoneburner's argument. He added that if he does end up as a tight end, it would in more of an H-back role filled in the NFL by pass-catchers like Kellen Winslow II and Dallas Clark.

But given the numbers he put up at Coffman, there's no reason to move Stoneburner away from the wide receiver spot. As a senior this past season, he caught 74 passes for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns, earning a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Game. The No. 65-rated player in the Scout 100, Stoneburner finished his career with 168 grabs and 28 touchdowns.

Among those grabs were a number of highlight reel catches that showed he has no problems making the tough catch in traffic.

"I feel like when the ball is in the air and I know it's going to be a tough catch, it's something where I know I'm coming down with this ball," he said. "I just have the determination that the ball is mine when the ball is in the air."

He plans to enroll early at Ohio State for spring quarter in March to show off those skills.

"I just want to show that I can actually compete as a wide receiver, showcase my skills," he said. "Some people have been doubting me and my wide receiver skills. I want to be able to go there and impress the coaches.

"There's always a comparison to me being a tight end. If I go in there and start off as a wideout and do well with the workouts and spring drills and in the spring game, I can show that I am a wideout and capable of being a wide receiver at the Division I level."

And, failing everything else, Stoneburner will even let his preferred choice of position choose which number he wears as a Buckeye.

"I was thinking 85, but I might go with 15 because 85 kind of has the tight end stigma going with it," he said. "I think if I got 15 I'll just do something new."

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