Ohio State senior Rashod Berry splitting time between offense and defense

Joey Kaufman
Rashod Berry, above, became the first Ohio State player since Zach Boren in 2012 to play both offense and defense in the same game. [Maddie Schroeder/Dispatch]

Tight end Rashod Berry's appearance at defensive end in Ohio State's win over Maryland on Saturday was more than a one-week cameo.

He will remain available to line up on offense or defense.

“He's very talented, so he has the ability to do both,” coach Ryan Day said. “Based on the game plan and based on what we're seeing week in, week out, we're going to try to plug him in where he can best help. That could be on either side of the ball.”

The dual role is rare in college football. Berry became the first Ohio State player to play both offense and defense in a game since Zach Boren in 2012.

“Hopefully he's mature enough as a fifth-year guy that we can minimize stress for him and put him in good situations,” said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who is also the tight ends coach.

Berry, a fifth-year senior, first joined the Buckeyes as a defensive end recruit and spent his first two seasons along the defensive line before switching to tight end in 2017 amid a shortage of depth.

But Wilson felt the Buckeyes had been well-stocked since that initial switch, noting the emergence of sophomore tight end Jeremy Ruckert, plus other veterans, including Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann, that made Berry a candidate to move over to defense on a part-time basis.

Ohio State has five scholarship tight ends on the roster this season.

“The door kind of swung open the other way for him,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he broached the move with defensive line coach Larry Johnson during practices last week. The Buckeyes had some injuries among their defensive ends, and star pass rusher Chase Young's status had been up in the air related to an NCAA eligibility issue.

“I know the defensive coaches will put him in situations (which) they think he can handle,” Wilson said, “and after coaching him for three years, I feel like I have a good idea of what he needs. We'll just go back and forth.”

Berry will not be given a full playbook on either offense or defense, Wilson said, as he referred to him as a situational player.

Farrell, as well as Hausmann and Ruckert, had remained ahead of Berry on the depth chart at tight end this season.

Appearing in seven of nine games, Berry has one catch for 16 yards. He caught nine passes for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season.

With additional responsibility on the defensive line, Berry was sitting in on position meetings this week.

“Rashod is an athlete,” defensive end Tyler Friday said. “It's great to have him on board. Quick off the ball. A guy who can move. We can use him for a lot of different things.”

Hafley considered

for assistant honor

Defensive co-coordinator Jeff Hafley is included among 41 nominees for the Broyles Award, which is given to the nation's top assistant coach.

The nominees were announced Wednesday.

In his first season, Hafley, who previously was an assistant in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, has overseen dramatic improvement from the Buckeyes it allowed 25.5 points per game last fall, the most in school history.

Ohio State ranks No. 1 in the Football Bowl Subdivision in scoring defense, total defense and yards allowed per play after the Buckeyes were No. 50, No. 71 and No. 72 in the same categories last season.

Quarterback Justin Fields was also announced as one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien Award, which goes to the nation's top quarterback.

Fields was among the four underclassmen, which included Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who were semifinalists.


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