Schwartz Vying For Action

After a standout high school career, Grant Schwartz came to Ohio State in 2006 planning to make his mark as a defensive back for the Buckeyes. Now two years later, the California native is plying his trade on the other side of the ball but is receiving some praise from a teammate. Take a deeper look at Schwartz in this update.

Whatever Grant Schwartz is paying Kurt Coleman, it is worth it.

As Ohio State's football team reported for fall camp August 3, the junior defensive back from Clayton (Ohio) Northmont was telling anyone who would listen what a great summer Schwartz – who was converted from a safety to a wide receiver last fall – had been putting together.

"Within a year, he's coming around," Coleman said. "I'm telling you, he's going to make an impact on this team."

That praise was then followed up four days later during the team's annual photo day. As this reporter spoke to Schwartz, Coleman walked up behind the sophomore, gave a two-thumbs-up gesture and grinned, raising his eyebrows as if to say, "Look, here's the best player on the entire team."

It obviously helps that the two were both defensive backs as freshmen in 2006, although Coleman saw game action that year and Schwartz redshirted. Both then had the displeasure of undergoing position changes – Coleman from cornerback to safety, Schwartz from safety to wideout – for their second seasons at OSU.

But whatever the reason, Coleman is convinced Schwartz is the kind of player who is going to factor in for the OSU offense this season. Last year, Schwartz saw action in nine games on special teams, assisting on a tackle against Youngstown State in the season opener and earning his first varsity letter.

The position change for Schwartz has not been a seamless transition, but he pointed to his high school experience as a quarterback as having been particularly helpful throughout the process.

"It's definitely helped me with concepts," he said. "I'm learning route-running concepts a lot faster, so I would definitely say it's been beneficial."

Schwartz does not appear in the preseason depth chart published in the team's media guide, but he is working behind returning honorable mention all-Big Ten wideout Brian Robiskie at split end. Taurian Washington is listed as the primary backup for Robiskie.

Washington is just one member of a wide receiver corps at OSU that could be the deepest in recent memory, factors that all indicate that Schwartz is still a ways off from playing time.

Looking at a depth chart containing the likes of Robiskie, Washington, Brian Hartline, Dane Sanzenbacher and Ray Small all ahead of him, Schwartz is "clearly behind," according to OSU wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell, but is showing progress.

"He's been working hard," Hazell said. "I'm pleased with what he's doing and he's getting better, trying to learn the system. He's improved tremendously since he started playing wideout."

Although he is primarily a backup to Robiskie, Schwartz said he is learning all three wide receiver positions and is capable of playing any of them.

The learning process for Schwartz has been accelerated by the help of two unlikely mentors.

"Ben Kascandi, a fifth-year senior who doesn't get much publicity, he knows the playbook inside out so he's been a big help to me," Schwartz said. "Last year, Devin Jordan helped me a lot. There's been a cast of many helping me with the move. They've been very accepting."

Although his chances of having any sort of meaningful impact at the wide receiver position this season are slim, Schwartz is simply excited for the chance to be a Buckeye and help his team in any way he can.

"We all feel like we can make a contribution this year," he said. "We're just going to let the chips fall as they may, and if I fall at the top then I fall at the top but right now we're just battling."

At the least, Coleman said Schwartz might be disproving the old adage that defensive backs would be wide receivers if they could only catch the ball.

"That just shows how good DBs are," Coleman said with a laugh. "We have the hands; you can put us on either side of the ball."


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