Stoneburner spoke of his thoughts on the upcoming season with Bill Greene at the Ohio State photo day event.
Greene: Jake, I haven't interviewed you in over a year and I'm stunned at how different you look physically. What have you done specifically to get bigger and stronger?
Stoneburner: "Since I didn't play last year I killed myself in the weight room and lifted like I never have in the past. I also think since I turned 20 that my body has filled out naturally. I probably was always going to be a big guy, even without all the weight training. I'm so much stronger right now and I need to be to be playing tight end. A lot of it is physical maturity, along with our strength and conditioning program."
Greene: You had a lot of great schools to choose from coming out of Dublin Coffman. You came here as a wide receiver and got moved to tight end. Do you ever look back at your decision to come to Ohio State?
Stoneburner: "Not at all. Never. I couldn't ask to be at a better place. I'm close to home and I play in one of the best programs in America. We have great facilities, great coaches and I love my teammates as brothers. What more could I want? Regarding tight end, I think it was the right decision for me to switch from wide receiver. If I'm ever going to get a shot at the NFL it will be at tight end."
Greene: As we look to the 2009 season, are you in a position where you can line up every down as a pure tight end, or are you a flex-type of player?
Stoneburner: "They told me I was going to be a flex tight end, but to be honest, I haven't done that yet. I've been down in a three-point stance the whole time. They are starting me off as a true tight end and I feel like I've been holding my own against big guys like Thad Gibson and Cam Heyward. I've only had maybe ten practices at tight end and I think the flex stuff will get added in on a weekly basis as part of the game plan."
Greene: Let's expand on that. As they start to game plan for Navy, do you see yourself split out wide at times? Maybe an H-back occasionally? Or playing the flex tight end, like Dallas Clark of the Indianapolis Colts?
Stoneburner: "Yes, definitely. There are some sets where Jake [Ballard] and I will be in the game and I'll be split out like a wide receiver. I can be an H-back and come in motion. We have a lot of that stuff in the offense, but we haven't really run it yet. I think they want to get Jake and I on the field together to really put pressure on the defense from the inside. One of the main reasons they moved me is to exploit my skills on a linebacker in coverage. My size comes in handy against the defensive backs also."
Greene: As you look down the road three or four years and consider playing NFL football, do you definitely see yourself as a tight end?
Stoneburner: "No doubt about it. If I look at this maturely, it's clearly the right move for me to go to tight end. If you look at a fast tight end who can block and run great routes, that's a hot commodity right now in the NFL. This move helps me in terms of playing NFL football, and that's where I want to be some day, so this is a great thing for me."
Greene: You have not played competitive football since your senior year of high school. What will it be like to finally play inside this stadium?
Stoneburner: "I really can't get my mind around that fact yet. Practice has been so hard and so physical, that I'm trying to survive every day at a time. We aren't allowed to look past Navy to USC, but it's kind of fun to imagine I might be on the field for the biggest game in the nation, with the whole country watching. Look, I'm going to be nervous and excited as all heck, but I'm going to be ready to do what it takes for this team to win."
Greene: Last question. Can this team win a national championship?
Stoneburner: "No doubt in my mind. We are one of about 30 teams that can legitimately win it all. We have a lot of talent and we really want to establish our legacy at Ohio State. I expect us to have a great season and I think the coaches are thinking the same thing. They seem pretty confident in what we have to put out on the field."