Stoneburner Adjusting To TE Role

When Jake Stoneburner was being recruited by Ohio State, the possibility of moving him from wide receiver to tight end grew as his frame did. Now getting ready for his first season as a tight end, Stoneburner opens up about the possibilities he sees for himself and the position as a whole.

Although it was always a possibility, even Jacob Stoneburner himself did not expect to already be lining up at tight end.

When the Dublin (Ohio) Coffman native enrolled at Ohio State for the 2008 season, he was listed as a wide receiver who had the potential to grow into a tight end. The team's media guide for the season listed him at 6-5, 225 pounds, but the Buckeye coaching staff said the plan was to keep him at wide receiver.

Now Stoneburner will head into the fall as a tight end at a self-reported weight of 250 pounds.

"I really didn't think I'd put on weight this easily, but I knew if I did I'd end up playing tight end," he told "If I were to stay at 220 then I wouldn't have wanted to play tight end but since I'm this size I don't really mind it."

During the spring OSU head coach Jim Tressel said Stoneburner had to move to tight end because he was tired of trying to keep his weight down himself. Stoneburner said he is not entirely sure where the extra weight came from.

"Really, I have no idea," he said. "I started lifting a lot. A lot of us redshirt freshmen started lifting like crazy. I got a lot stronger in my upper body. I wasn't really that strong coming out of high school so I think it's a lot of muscle mass."

At this point, Stoneburner said, he officially feels like a tight end. The switch came following the 2008 season, meaning Stoneburner went through spring drills at the position as well. In addition, he filled in at tight end sporadically throughout the season while working on the scout team.

The biggest adjustment to the position has been learning the blocking techniques, he said.

"I learned all the blocking techniques and getting all that stuff down, but the route-running is pretty much the same," he said. "I have a good grasp on that. I have had to learn personnel, techniques, vocabulary."

It also has meant he has had to learn how to block the likes of Cameron Heyward, Thaddeus Gibson and others. The trick is to stay in front of them, he said.

"The first couple days I was pretty nervous about blocking big guys like Cam, but I did a lot better than I thought," he said. "In spring ball I got pretty confident."

Senior Jake Ballard enters the season with three years' worth of experience at the position, but he has caught just 20 passes for 227 yards and three scores in 38 games while serving as the primary understudy for Rory Nicol.

With Nicol having exhausted his eligibility, Stoneburner steps into the void as the second tight end in the OSU offense. The question now is whether or not the tight ends on this year's team will find passes being thrown their way.

By doing some reading between the lines, Stoneburner feels that will happen.

"They've been saying they're going to (throw to us more)," he said. "It wouldn't make sense to move a receiver to tight end if they wanted me to block. You would move a tackle to tight end or recruit bigger tight ends. I just don't think that if they wanted me just to block, they would have moved me to tight end."

OSU head coach Jim Tressel has hinted that more chances for production could be coming to the tight ends.

"Jake's been working very hard and I've seen some good things from Jake Stoneburner that indicate that we may have a chance, according to what the defense does, to apply a little bit of pressure. I thought they (both) showed us a little bit this spring."

Stoneburner's addition to the tight end room has made for a more diverse group of players, Ballard said.

"It used to be just me, Rory Nicol and Brandon Smith," Ballard said. "We were the bigger guys and usually used for run blocking. Now you've got Stoneburner who came over from the receivers and he's really helping us out as far as the passing games going. It's a diverse group of guys, but we're all big guys."

It sounds like the transformation is complete, then.

"My body is changing and I feel a lot bigger with my upper body," Stoneburner said. "I'm running with the guys who play tight end, the bigger guys. Now I really do feel like a tight end."

Tressel said he has noticed the change in Stoneburner.

"He's got a little strength," Tressel said. "He's a 370 pounds power-clean guy. He's one of the top guys in the team, so he's a little surprise in the blocking and a very good inside receiver."

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