Rutgers junior John Tsimis was already a borderline starter at wide receiver, but his special teams role expands as well after the injury to Janarion Grant. The sure-handed Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic graduate is a top contender for Grant's vacated punt return job in competition with Jawuan Harris.
Tsimis split punt return work with Harris during Tuesday's practice.
"It was unfortunate because Janarion was having a great year, but I'm ready," Tsimis said. "I come out to practice every day and I think I'm going to have a big role on Saturday so nothing really changes. I'm just ready for whatever opportunity comes and I've got to make the most of it."
At receiver, Tsimis has starting experience. He pulled down his first catch of the season against Iowa, and wants more opportunities against Ohio State.
"The past two weeks, I've gotten a lot of reps, but the whole dynamic kind of changes now," Tsimis said. "Everyone is kind of moving around, so it's definitely going to have an impact. We're ready for it."
Rutgers offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer started Tsimis as a slot weapon in camp. After Harris emerged as Grant's primary backup in the slot, Tsimis moved outside where he likely starts as the third receiver against the Buckeyes.
"It looks like I'll be playing a lot of outside with Jawuan inside but I'm definitely still going to play both with a lot of rotating," Tsimis said. "I know all three positions."
Tsimis worked himself into a stronger receiver in the offseason. His toughness showed after he took a massive hit against Iowa, and it also helps him as one of the better run blockers at receiver.
"I had a couple of big hits, but I'm used to it," Tsimis said. "When you're going for a ball, sometimes you get exposed but it's just part of the game. ... The offseason program and all of the lifting helps me with getting bigger and stronger."
Originally recruited at Rutgers by Greg Schiano, Tsimis faces him and the powerful Buckeye defense Saturday at the Horseshoe.
"That defense is really similar to ours," Tsimis said. "We do a lot of the same stuff. It's what I've been going against all camp, all spring, so we're used to it. It will be just like practice. ... Coach Schiano was the first one to originally recruit me, so I've met him a couple of times and it should be fun."