- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State now heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking back at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 invaluable workouts. The offense will go first this week, followed by a handful of defenders who will be in line for heavy workloads this fall as well.
No. 5: Jeff Heuerman
Who: The junior tight end was already a relatively known quantity for the Buckeyes after providing some rugged blocking and some occasional assistance as a receiving threat last season. But Heuerman had to cede some of the responsibility to Jake Stoneburner in terms of the passing attack. But Stoneburner's departure, Heuerman's continued development and added comfort in the spread system has the 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end in position to be a major factor for the Buckeyes.
Spring progress: Given his particular role a year ago and his huge frame, Heuerman might not have had much to prove as a blocker this spring. But coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman love to create mismatches with their tight ends and use them in a variety of ways to keep a defense off balance. Showing more familiarity with the playbook went a long way for Heuerman and could help keep him on the field for almost any scenario -- from short-yardage to third-and-long.
Jockeying for position: Heuerman already owned a starting job at tight end, a spot he shared last year with Nick Vannett. The sophomore was impressive in his own right during camp, and he'll likely stay bracketed with Heuerman as the official first-teamers and keep giving Meyer a couple reasons to feel good about the amount of flexibility he'll have on offense.
He said it: "I’m just excited about being more of an every-down tight end, rather than last year where third-and-long, third-and-7, Jake’s in there running routes. That’s the big thing they’ve been working on this spring, being the every-down tight end. [Position coach Tim] Hinton and coach Meyer, coach Herman, they’ve been doing great getting me ready for that, and I’m excited for that."
Closing number: Heuerman generated most of his excitement before the spring game, but he still wrapped up camp by tacking on a catch for 6 yards in the exhibition win for his Scarlet team. He finished last season with 8 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.
19hJosh Moyer and Dan Murphy