Tight ends know blocking paves way for success

Tim May
tmay@dispatch.com

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Luke Farrell knew what he was getting himself into when he signed to play tight end at Ohio State. So did Rashod Berry.

“I knew I was going to have to prove myself as a blocker to get on the field in this offense,” Farrell said. “The passing game, getting receptions, would come from there.”

Such was the mindset for Farrell, Berry and freshman Jeremy Ruckert heading into Saturday night at Purdue. The Buckeyes entered intent on shifting their running game out of low gear while keeping the passing game on track behind quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr.

Farrell, who caught four passes for 24 yards against Purdue, said tight ends figure into OSU's offense either way.

“In our offense, our tight ends are expected to do everything, pretty evenly,” he said.

The Buckeyes have used them that way, sometimes two at a time. With one lining up in a classic tight end position and the other hovering just off the line before being sent to one side or the other to beef up the point of attack or serve as a decoy, the intent has been to add oomph to the blocking.

As Berry showed by his reaction after throwing a key block on Binjimen Victor’s 47-yard touchdown catch Sept. 29 at Penn State, they have fun paving the way.

“It’s just really my passion for the game,” Berry said. “When the game’s on the line or even when it’s not on the line, seeing my teammates score is just exciting for me.”

It’s an attitude he had to adopt to get on the field, despite being a star receiving tight end in high school.

“I came in as a tight end, moved to defense, then came back to offense,” Berry, who caught one pass for 10 yards against Purdue, said before the game. “I just feel like everything is for a reason. … I found my role, and now I’m playing to help the team.”

Ruckert, considered the No. 1 tight end prospect out of high school, has been trying to make it a three-man competition.

“Since he got here this summer, he just wants to be better, which is awesome,” Farrell said. “He’s doing whatever he can mentally, physically to get better, and you can see it.”

The key is to keep progressing in both blocking and receiving.

“As coach (Kevin) Wilson always talks about, you run into a problem when you don’t have a tight end who can block well,” Farrell said. “Whether it’s protection, or perimeter running, or running the quarterback too much or getting hits on him — he feels and we feel it’s crucial for our offense, what we do.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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