Ohio State Buckeyes: Rising Stock 2013

With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program during spring workouts. Last week it was the offense, and now we'll look at a handful of defenders who will be in line for heavy workloads this fall.

No. 1: Adolphus Washington

    • Who: Early in camp, the practice-field highlights of fellow sophomore defensive end Noah Spence overshadowed Washington. Even midway through camp, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer wasn't quite seeing the consistent dominance he was hoping for from a well-built pass-rusher with so much potential. But down the stretch Washington consistently put everything together, stamping himself as a potential worthy heir to John Simon and a developing force with whom the Big Ten will have to contend for at least the next season. With his strength and a frame that tips the scales at nearly 300 pounds, Washington already has seen time on both the inside and the outside of the line. The sack and forced fumble from the edge last year against Michigan provided some evidence that position suits him best, though, and with Washington figuring out how to play with that urgency more regularly, he's clearly got some momentum at that spot moving forward.

 

  • Spring progress: Washington essentially showed up on campus last year physically ready for the game at this level, and he's only going to get stronger as he spends more time in Ohio State's rigorous offseason conditioning program. So that's not an area that will force position coach Mike Vrabel to worry much. Instead he can emphasize fine-tuning technical issues with Washington and motivating him to tap further into his vast potential. The Buckeyes might not have seen instant results, but by the 15th and final workout of camp there might not have been another player on the roster who had done more to win over the coaching staff.
  • Jockeying for position: With speed that is almost frightening given his stature, Washington is more than capable of getting to the quarterback off the edge while providing plenty of support against the run, thanks to his 292 pounds. That package will continue to give the Buckeyes flexibility, as he can easily transition from tackle to end, and vice versa. At this point, Washington appears best suited to playing outside, particularly with Michael Bennett, Joel Hale, Chris Carter and Tommy Schutt available to fill out the rotation on the interior. But depending on the situation and the formation, Washington's set of skills could be put to use in a variety of ways.
  • He said it: "Adolphus Washington has really raised his level of play, he’s a legitimate player, he’s a starter at Ohio State. You saw him today just have his way with our offensive line at times, and he could be a very good player." -- Meyer, after the spring game
  • Closing number: The sacks were easier to come by with quarterback Braxton Miller in a black, non-contact jersey, and his offensive line was also missing a couple starters. But regardless of the degree of difficulty or who was blocking, racking up four sacks in the spring game while making it look routine to get in the backfield offered some public evidence of how destructive Washington could become for the Buckeyes -- validating Meyer's claim a few days before the exhibition that the sophomore's stock was worth buying.

 

Rising stock: Noah Spence

May, 2, 2013
5/02/13
11:00
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 workouts. The offense went first last week, and it's now followed up by a handful of defenders who will be in line for heavy workloads this fall.

[+] EnlargeNoah Spence
Jim Rinaldi/Icon SMINoah Spence's physical skills, along with the experience he gained as a freshman, make him an intriguing player to watch.
No. 2: Noah Spence

  • Who: As one of the crown jewels of Urban Meyer's first recruiting class a year ago and also one of the true freshmen who chipped in on the way to perfection last fall, the defensive end isn't coming from nowhere to claim a first-team job. His current trajectory isn't surprising given his impressive physical attributes and the flashes of potential he showed in his limited game action behind Ohio State's veteran line last season. But neither of those factors should diminish the importance of his productive spring or the improvement he showed dominating drills even against respected blockers such as senior Jack Mewhort, as Spence solidified himself as a cornerstone of the rebuilding project on a defensive line that lost all four starters.
  • Spring progress: The Buckeyes are counting on Spence to take a step forward in all aspects of his game, but his natural tools and his game experience gave him a bit of a head start. Physically, Spence looked stronger in his upper body and hadn't sacrificed any of his trademark burst off the edge. But it was mental improvement that Spence was more focused on during workouts after admitting that he leaned heavily on his motor and energy to make up for his youthful lack of awareness.
  • Jockeying for position: There wasn't really any doubt heading into March about where Spence's name would be on the depth chart, and if there had been, it was completely gone after the spring game concluded camp. With the Buckeyes settled at end with Adolphus Washington complementing Spence on the other side, they can turn their attention during training camp to which guys are most capable of providing some breaks for the starters -- with Steve Miller, Rashad Frazier and Jamal Marcus leading the group of candidates.
  • He said it: "I pretty much try to go hard every play like it’s my last play. That’s probably the biggest thing I have going for me. I don’t always know what I’m doing, probably half the time I don’t know. I’m going to give 100 percent effort on every play." -- Spence
  • Closing number: Tackling Braxton Miller is a bit tougher than just slapping a couple hands on him, so the sacks on the Ohio State quarterback in the spring game come with some grains of salt. But no matter the degree of difficulty, Spence racking up three sacks in the exhibition game in Cincinnati only offered more evidence that he's ready for more responsibility -- and the added buzz that comes with it.

Rising stock: Doran Grant

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
11:00
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 workouts. The offense went first last week, and it's now followed up by a handful of defenders who will be in line for heavy workloads this fall.

[+] EnlargeDoran Grant
Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesDoran Grant celebrates after his interception sealed the Buckeyes' win over UAB last season.
No. 3: Doran Grant

  • Who: The flashes of ability off the bench last season made it clear that Grant, a junior, would at a minimum be sliding into a starting position when spring practice opened. But Ohio State still needed to see something more from Grant to feel truly comfortable with him on the field consistently opposite Bradley Roby at the other cornerback. Truthfully, what the coaching staff really wanted to find out was if Grant was capable of being the top cornerback on the field if, for some reason, Roby wasn't available. And while Roby's nagging shoulder injury was a factor in a lighter workload during camp, the Buckeyes also pulled him out of some situations even when he could compete, just to see how Grant would respond to the pressure of playing at the boundary position in the secondary. After passing the test out there, Grant was able to tighten his grip at the field spot heading into the summer.
  • Spring progress: Few players on the Ohio State roster can stop a watch quicker in the 40-yard dash than Grant, and with comparable size to Roby, there aren't many physical concerns about his ability to match up in coverage, either. But extensive study of practice and game tapes by cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs suggested the issue holding Grant back from becoming a regular in the rotation last season was his slow read-and-react times in coverage. The Buckeyes have designed a number of drills that all their defensive backs can do to improve that, but nobody has taken to them quite like Grant -- and the results are showing up on the field.
  • Jockeying for position: There will be no shortage of challengers for Grant's spot when the Buckeyes report back to practice in August as one of the most talented signing classes of defensive backs in the country arrives. But the competition was already pretty intense for the Buckeyes in the spring, with Armani Reeves, Tyvis Powell and early enrollees Eli Apple and Cam Burrows all in a group pushing for a role in a deep secondary. Grant has a head start thanks to his game experience and some previous success in limited chances, but maintaining that edge will require more than just showing up.
  • He said it: "Our ideal situation is all of those guys play, all of them contribute. I think that’s healthy, and that way if a guy gets dinged or a guy gets tired, you don’t feel like you can’t do this, the sky is falling. My expectation is that there’s good, healthy competition among all of those guys and those young guys coming in are going to push them for playing time." -- Coombs, on adding more depth at cornerback
  • Closing number: Grant wasn't able to get his hands on the football as spring practice wrapped up with an exhibition in Cincinnati, but he did chip in four tackles while continuing to handle Roby's role. Roby was held out to rest an injured shoulder.

Rising stock: Curtis Grant

April, 30, 2013
4/30/13
9:50
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 workouts. The offense went first last week, and it's now followed up with a handful of defenders who will be in line for heavy workloads this fall.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Grant
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesCurtis Grant was poised for a breakthrough last fall that never came. He had a solid spring in 2013.
No. 4: Curtis Grant

  • Who: The wait has been longer than Ohio State surely imagined, but it appears there might finally be a reward for the patience shown toward the once highly-regarded recruit heading into his junior season. Grant has left camp with a starting job before, and he didn't waste much time losing his spot at middle linebacker last fall. But there seems to be a different urgency coming from Grant as the clock ticks on his career with the Buckeyes, and there's clearly more confidence coming from the coaching staff about his ability to handle the responsibility than there was a year ago.
  • Spring progress: The physical skills that originally sent expectations for Grant skyward have never really been in doubt, and Ohio State wasn't trying to find out this spring if he could still run fast or deliver a hit with his 6-foot-3, 241-pound frame. The question for Grant was if he was ready to truly channel all his energy into the other parts of the game that allow a linebacker to take the next step, and at least throughout camp, the answers he provided were all positive for the Buckeyes. Grant has taken more time studying film with his roommate and fellow linebacker Ryan Shazier. He's also played with more energy and also acknowledged a few mistakes he made in the past in terms of preparation to shoulder the blame for two seasons effectively wasted on the sideline. That adds up to a pretty mature package, and the Buckeyes can certainly put it to use.
  • Jockeying for position: Grant wrapped up spring on top of the depth chart at middle linebacker, complete with coach Urban Meyer's blessing that he had earned that right to play in that spot at Ohio State. The Buckeyes still have some depth issues collectively at the second level, but a starting group with Shazier and sophomore Joshua Perry flanking either side of Grant is a fine foundation as the competition heats up with incoming freshmen Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson set to arrive this summer.
  • He said it: "Curtis looks totally different than he used to. Last year he felt like he had a spot locked down, and I don’t feel he got complacent, but he thought it was his. He worked as hard, but I just think he had a mentality that it was his job and he lost focus. Now, this year, I can tell he’s more into it. Nothing is on his mind but football, and he’s going to take us in the right direction." -- Shazier
  • Closing number: After wrapping up his disappointing sophomore campaign with just eight tackles, Grant put a much nicer bow on his productive spring camp by chipping in on 10 hits for the Gray team -- including six solo efforts. Grant also added a sack to help solidify himself as a potential regular on defense heading into the offseason.

Rising stock: Tyvis Powell

April, 29, 2013
4/29/13
11:00
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 workouts. The offense went first last week, and it's now followed up with a handful of defenders who will be in line for heavy workloads this fall.

No. 5: Tyvis Powell
[+] EnlargeTyvis Powell
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteRedshirt freshman Tyvis Powell has burst into the secondary rotation this spring.

  • Who: The defensive back spent his first year on campus on the sideline and in the crosshairs of position coach Kerry Coombs, who peppered Powell every day during his redshirt season with tough love designed to bring out his best and develop him into a contributor in the secondary. The results appear to be paying off more quickly than the Buckeyes might have hoped, with Powell claiming a first-team role in the nickel and dime packages at the start of camp and holding on to it all the way to the end. Powell brings intriguing size for a cornerback at 6-foot-3, with length that can be a nuisance for offenses in the passing game and enough strength to come up and support against the run, as well.
  • Spring progress: The first steps forward apparently were taken during the offseason conditioning program, where Powell's work ethic and physical development stood out enough for the defensive coaching staff to reward him with a prominent role on the first day of practice, despite not playing him for a single down last fall. Powell still has room to grow in coverage, but his usefulness against both the pass and the run, and Ohio State's plan to play with its nickel personnel more often, figures to give him plenty of chances to make his mark.
  • Jockeying for position: There might not be a position with more competition than the Star spot in the nickel, given the depth of talent in the secondary -- both on campus already and arriving in the fall from Urban Meyer's second signing class with the Buckeyes. Veteran safety Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown, cornerback Armani Reeves and recovering sophomore Devan Bogard all will be pushing for action, just for starters. And a group of incoming freshmen led by safety Vonn Bell could also raise the bar for Powell if he's going to stick around with the first unit.
  • He said it: "Tyvis, I feel like his confidence is through the roof right now. He's making plays every day in practice. He's a tall, long guy who can make plays in the nickel right now, and I feel like he's stepping up and doing a pretty good job for us." -- senior safety Christian Bryant
  • Closing number: There weren't all that many chances to make a play coming Powell's way in the spring game, but he capitalized on the handful that did with three tackles. The redshirt freshman also chipped in a pass breakup, one of only three recorded for the Gray team against an offense led by Braxton Miller.

Rising stock: Chris Fields

April, 26, 2013
4/26/13
10:20
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 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. 1: Chris Fields
[+] EnlargeChris Fields
Greg Bartram/USA TODAY SportsChris Fields, who had only four catches in 2012, has earned a starting spot in the fall.

  • Who: The Buckeyes aren't yet in a position to feel truly comfortable about their depth at wide receiver, but they certainly can rest a bit easier at the end of spring practice -- and not just because a talented group of signees will be arriving this summer in time for training camp. Ohio State apparently had another potential starter under its nose the entire time, and Fields finally presented himself as a target worth throwing out with the first team with 15 productive practices that clearly caught the eye of coach Urban Meyer. Fields has only sporadically contributed much of consequence heading into his senior season, and while the Buckeyes might not have gone undefeated without his overtime-forcing touchdown last year against Purdue, that's the only score of his career at this point. It appears he has positioned himself for a chance to improve that production considerably.
  • Spring progress: The relative lack of bodies on hand at receiver in spring gave Fields plenty of chances to show what he could do as a weapon in the spread offense, but he also benefited from a minor injury to Jordan Hall that opened up some reps at H-back and gave the Buckeyes yet another option to consider. Fields offered steady hands as a target, appeared much more comfortable with his routes and responsibilities and showed good speed and elusiveness once he had the football in his hands -- whether it got there through the air or if he took it as a rusher, as he did on a 6-yard touchdown carry in the spring game.
  • Jockeying for position: Evan Spencer might have posted better numbers a year ago and Michael Thomas could have the greater upside as a target in the passing game, but neither left camp with Meyer calling them a starter. Fields took that honor, and if the Buckeyes had to play a meaningful game in April, he would be listed along with Devin Smith and Philly Brown as the first-team wideouts on the depth chart. That's a pretty remarkable development and a tribute to the work Fields has done since chipping in just 4 catches last season, though more competition is on the way.
  • He said it: "Chris Fields, I’m going to name him starter today. I told him I would if he finished the spring, and Chris Fields has earned a starting spot on the offense -- which is amazing. He’s a wonderful guy. Last year was very inconsistent, but I know [offensive coordinator] Tom Herman feels the same way. He’s earned a starting spot." -- Meyer after the spring game
  • Closing number: Fields pulled some double-duty in the closing exhibition in Cincinnati, and that heavy workload helped him pile up some yardage and continue to catch Meyer's eye heading into the summer. In all, Fields caught 5 passes for 37 yards and added 9 more yards on 2 carries with a touchdown to put a wrap on his productive camp.

Rising stock: Rod Smith

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
11:00
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 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.

[+] EnlargeRod Smith
Jim Owens/Icon SMIRod Smith really stood out this spring in the race to become Carlos Hyde's primary backup.
No. 2: Rod Smith

  • Who: All the pieces are there for a dynamic running back, but Rod Smith has yet to ever put them all together and unleash all the potential that Ohio State has seen on the practice field. But heading into his junior season, Smith is finally showing signs of figuring out that puzzle and unlocking even more possibilities for the Buckeyes on offense. Carlos Hyde is still the top choice in the backfield, and that isn't likely to change as long as the senior is healthy. But if Smith rushes with the sense of urgency he showed before his spring ended prematurely, if he continues to absorb the responsibilities lined out for him in the playbook and, most important, if Smith is able to protect the football, there will be plenty for him to do in the fall.
  • Spring progress: The Buckeyes gave Hyde a number of reps off in the spring to get a better look at the candidates for carries behind him, putting Smith in position to show what he could do if he were needed on the first-team offense. He responded with some explosive gains, flashing the speed that makes him a home run threat while still being an option between the tackles at 6-foot-3, 238 pounds. There have never been doubts about his physical skills, though, and it's an improved ability to embrace competition and lock in focus on the practice field and in meeting rooms that should enable Smith to reach a higher level.
  • Jockeying for position: Smith wasn't going to unseat Hyde in the spring, but Smith's extra reps helped him separate from backups Warren Ball and Bri'onte Dunn and establish himself as the No. 2 guy in the rotation, even though he missed the last week of camp dealing with a concussion.
  • He said it: "We went into this spring with a certain emphasis in mind. We were going to work on certain things, and Carlos had really proved with those things that he was very capable in game situations. He's battle-tested, so it was time to develop some younger guys. ... Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith have separated themselves." -- running backs coach Stan Drayton
  • Closing number: A concussion suffered during a scrimmage the week before the spring game kept Smith out of the final week of practice and the closing exhibition game in Cincinnati, but that didn't cause him to give up any ground after getting 32 carries and gaining 215 yards with two touchdowns last fall.

Rising stock: Michael Thomas

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
11:00
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking 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.

Michael Thomas, Eli Apple
AP Photo/Al BehrmanMichael Thomas hauled in a touchdown pass in traffic in the spring game.
No. 3: Michael Thomas

  • Who: The sophomore receiver still might not be a finished product and he didn't leave camp with a claim to a starting job, but there's little doubt that Thomas is trending upward after a season largely spent on the sideline adapting to the college level and the responsibilities at his position. The Buckeyes have two veterans they can feel pretty confident about in Philly Brown and Devin Smith, who are both back and improved as well. Thomas is making a push for an expanded role thanks to an ability to make tough catches, run sharper routes and an apparent ability to make catches despite contact against tight coverage. At a minimum, the spread offense should include more targets in the rotation even before the new wave of signees report this summer.
  • Spring progress: Thomas turned in a buzz-worthy camp in the 2012 spring practice as an early enrollee, but he certainly wasn't prepared to live up to the hype as he struggled to get a grasp on the playbook last fall. With the benefit of a full year to get acclimated and up to speed, his natural skills were put on display with more regularity during open workouts in March and April. Thomas was able to adjust to balls on deep routes and consistently haul them in with his strong hands. Passes that might have been somewhat off target on intermediate routes were snagged thanks to his size and reach, and with his weight up close to 200 pounds, Thomas wasn't pushed around by cornerbacks who bumped, and he more than held his own in one-on-one passing drills during an impressive series of workouts.
  • Jockeying for position: Brown and Smith are comfortably at the top of the depth chart, just as they were at the end of last season. And while the addition of a handful of potential playmakers from the recent signing class will add to the competition in training camp, the battle for time is already heating up thanks to the emergence of Chris Fields, some development by Evan Spencer and the improved comfort of Thomas. Fields was given the third starting position coming out of spring, but Thomas isn't likely to fade away in the fall, as he did as a freshman.
  • He said it: "I mean, he developed, he came along. He was a true freshman, and he wasn’t as good as I hoped he was going to be or as good as he hoped he was going to be. But the best thing that happened to him was having to deal with success and failure, and having to go into an offseason saying, ‘My God, I was nowhere near where I want to be or where this offense for my head coach needs me to be.’ It really fueled the last six months." -- wide receivers coach Zach Smith, on Thomas
  • Closing number: The second spring game for Thomas wasn't quite as explosive as the first, but he still put his mark on the exhibition with another productive outing during a pass-heavy afternoon. Thomas finished with seven catches for 79 yards, including a long of 31, and had a touchdown reception that highlighted his ability to come down with the football in traffic.

Rising stock: Young running backs

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
11:00
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State 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.

[+] EnlargeBri'onte Dunn
Greg Bartram/USA TODAY SportsBri'onte Dunn showed plenty in spring practice, but he hasn't unseated Rod Smith as the No. 2 running back.
No. 4: Warren Ball and Bri'onte Dunn

  • Who: The Buckeyes had no need to stage a competition for the top job in the backfield with Carlos Hyde returning, and the athleticism Rod Smith brings to the table helped him stake an early claim to the backup job. But there were plenty of eyes on the young running backs trying to avoid getting crowded out in a stable of rushers that appears quite well stocked, and both Bri'onte Dunn and Warren Ball made cases to stay in the conversation heading into training camp. Dunn has already shown what he can offer after contributing on a limited basis as a freshman last fall, but Ball was more of a wildcard thanks to the foot injury that forced him to redshirt. While they certainly aren't carbon copies of each other, Ball and Dunn have similar body types and generated some positive buzz for their futures with hard-nosed running and an ability to break off some productive runs when space opened ahead of them. That only adds to the flexibility for the Buckeyes on offense.
  • Spring progress: Dunn wasn't pressed into duty much last season, but he did use his 25 carries to prove he's got potential with the football in his hands, picking up 133 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns. He was also briefly an option on special teams, but the Buckeyes were looking for more focus and energy from Dunn during the spring as it gauged how much it could use him in the fall. The results, for the most part, were encouraging. The same was true for Ball, though he had much more to prove after suffering the physical setback during training camp last August. With Hyde held out of a handful of drills throughout camp in order to give the Buckeyes a chance to look at the other candidates for work behind him, Ball made the most of his opportunities and didn't give any more ground after missing his chance to shine early last season.
  • Jockeying for position: Hyde is the clear front runner, and Smith will take a lead into August as the second option in the backfield. But the Buckeyes appear to be much more comfortable with their depth at running back than they did a year ago, with Dunn and Ball locked in a tight battle to squeeze into the third spot -- which could get the winner on the field with coach Urban Meyer toying with some full-house packages.
  • He said it: "Warren Ball has shown the capability to be an explosive football player at times. I love the way he attacks defenders, I love the capability of hitting a home run from time to time. Bri'onte just brings that low pad level, move the ball 4 yards every time kind of demeanor. I think it's a fit for both of them, but I don't want them to be situational backs, though. I want them to present themselves as guys that can be in there in any given situation, and I think that might be what separates them in the future." -- running backs coach Stan Drayton
  • Closing number: The passing game was the top priority for the Scarlet squad in the spring game, leaving Dunn with few opportunities to generate momentum heading into the summer as a rusher. The sophomore finished with just two carries for 8 yards, but he did add 61 yards on five receptions out of the backfield and was a valuable weapon as a check-down target. Ball had more work for the Gray, and he averaged more than four yards per carry while getting the ball 11 times, also chipping in 17 yards on two receptions.

Rising stock: Jeff Heuerman

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
10:30
AM ET
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.

[+] EnlargeJeff Heuerman
Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesSix-foot-6, 250-pound tight end Jeff Heuerman looks to be a major factor in the Buckeyes offense in 2013.
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.

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