If Ohio State tight ends arrive in Columbus expecting to post gaudy receiving numbers, well, they should know better.
History shows that Buckeyes tight ends tend to be blockers first and receivers second. But in recent weeks, Ohio State’s, especially Luke Farrell, have gotten more involved in the passing game.
Farrell has caught 12 passes this season. Nine have come in the last three games.
Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
“It’s been great,” the redshirt sophomore from Perry said. “Over the course of the last five, six, seven games, we’ve earned trust, whether it’s with Dwayne (Haskins) or the coaching staff, of being a reliable option for him.”
Both coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who also coaches tight ends, said the Nebraska game was Farrell’s best of the season.
It’s not just the catches. The blocking from that position, with one notable exception, also was excellent last week, as it will need to be Saturday against Michigan State’s tough run defense.
The Buckeyes used Farrell along with freshman Jeremy Ruckert and redshirt freshman guard Wyatt Davis for extra blocking power in goal-line situations last week.
“It’s always fun to change it up a little bit,” Farrell said. “It’s really fun to be able to move the line of scrimmage like we did.”
He said the appreciation that Parris Campbell showed after they sprung him for a touchdown was all the affirmation they needed.
That the Buckeyes relied on Ruckert showed how much he has progressed as a blocker. He was considered more of a receiving tight end when he signed as a blue-chipper.
“It’s been awesome to see his improvement from when he got here,” Farrell said. “It was a big thing he had to work on. He has been gaining that confidence. He doesn’t really flinch when he gets in there, which is cool to see from a freshman.”
Ruckert got 15 snaps against Nebraska, Wilson said.
“He did well,” he said. “We’ve been working hard to get Jeremy involved more.”
The one major glitch for the tight ends on the day was a missed blitz pickup by Rashod Berry, which caused Haskins to be hit for a strip sack. Wilson said Berry hadn’t practiced much last week because of an injury.
But overall, it was a strong performance from an often-overlooked unit.
“I thought last week was the best our tight-ends group came off the ball with velocity and strength at the point of attack,” Wilson said.
Banks’ time coming
On his radio show Thursday, Meyer added another young player to the list of those on the verge of earning playing time.
“Sevyn Banks is another name to keep an eye on,” Meyer said. “He has really come on in practice. A very talented guy.”
He said that Banks, a true freshman from Orlando, Florida, is likely to play on kickoff units this week.
Meyer also continued to praise freshman receiver Chris Olave, who is in the rotation following Austin Mack’s foot injury.
“Chris Olave is one of our most improved guys,” Meyer said. “He’s a name that Buckeyes will remember for several years.”