Ohio State spring football review: Tight ends

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The question for Ohio State tight ends: What is next for the position after losing one of the most productive players the Buckeyes have had there in years?

Beyond simply replacing Cade Stover, depth is critical for coach Keenan Bailey to develop if the Ohio State offense is to take a step forward as a whole.

Here is what we learned about the position this spring.

(Previous recaps: QB, RB, WR)

(Re-)setting the scene:

Gee Scott Jr. is back for his fifth season and poised to be the No. 1 tight end, culminating a long journey since he was a four-star receiver recruit in the same class as Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who is preparing for his second season in the NFL.

In January, Ohio transfer Will Kacmarek joined the group that lost three players, including Stover, while Bennett Christian returns after serving a season-long suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

Hopes are high for Jelani Thurman, a sophomore from Georgia who brings a unique level of athleticism to the position for the Buckeyes, and a handful of walk-ons are also in the mix.

The latter group includes Patrick Gurd, a senior from New Albany, Ohio, who made an appearance at fullback in the spring game.

Then what happened?

Coaches raved about Scott all spring, and he had some moments last season that indicated he could handle a larger load of playing time.

They also praised Christian for doing all the right things during his suspension, and Thurman continued to develop while Kacmarek worked on acclimating to the program.

Credit: Carlos Osorio

Credit: Carlos Osorio

Predictions for this unit:

This is a hard group to peg because it has a hard job to perform, and at least 50% of it is dirty work in the trenches.

Scott could continue being the receiving threat Stover was last season, but has anyone learned to block? That is said to be a strong trait of Kacmarek’s.

Thurman could be a revelation whenever the light comes on, but the Buckeyes need at least one more player to step up regardless of who that is if they want to be a more physical running team.

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