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Ohio State 2017 Spring Positional Preview: Tight Ends
By Tony Gerdeman
Marcus Baugh leads a deep and talented group of tight ends this spring
Photo by Dan Harker

Ohio State returns all five scholarship tight ends from last year's team, though only two of them -- Marcus Baugh and A.J. Alexander -- have playing experience. Luke Farrell, Jake Hausmann, and Kierre Hawkins all redshirted as true freshmen a year ago, so this spring will be the first for each of them.

Even though the majority of this group has yet to play a single game, they were all highly-recruited players with offers from schools all over the nation. This is a very talented group that will use the spring to continue getting to know their new position coach Kevin Wilson. Wilson, obviously, will be using the time to get to know them as well.

The Players

85 Marcus Baugh (6-5 258) Redshirt Senior
Played and started in all 13 games last season...caught 24 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns...has improved consistently as a blocker...All-B1G candidate in 2017...

88 A.J. Alexander (6-2 254) Redshirt Sophomore
Played in every game in 2017, starting once...caught four passes for 27 yards, including three against Nebraska...

81 Jake Hausmann (6-4 245) Redshirt Freshman
Redshirted last season...ranked the No. 4 tight end in the 2016 class per the 247Sports Composite...nearly played last season...excelled on scout team...
89 Luke Farrell (6-6 245) Redshirt Freshman
Redshirted last season...ranked the No. 7 tight end in the 2016 class per the 247Sports Composite...had good things said about him for his scout team play during bowl practice...
24 Kierre Hawkins (6-3 245) Redshirt Freshman
Redshirted last season...ranked the No. 11 tight end in the nation in 2016 per the 247Sports Composite...athletic receiver who could excel in the slot...

The Depth Chart

85 Marcus Baugh
88 A.J. Alexander OR
81 Jake Hausmann OR
89 Luke Farrell OR
24 Kierre Hawkins

The Storyline

A coming-of-age story about five college students who set off in search of a legend that is more myth than fact -- volume receptions for a Buckeye tight end. Stories have been around for generations, but proof is fleeting, and mostly based on old cave paintings at nearby caverns. Determined to turn hearsay into history, the five men go through a series of grueling ordeals before finally realizing that the treasure they seek will actually find them if they are worthy.

Three Questions

1. How good can Marcus Baugh become?

2. How much will the redshirt freshmen push the incumbents?

3. What can Kevin Wilson's addition to this offense do for this group?

Best Case Scenario

Marcus Baugh has looked good in past springs, and the best case here would be for that to continue. He will need help, however, and the Buckeyes need at least two of the redshirt freshmen to push A.J. Alexander in order to make this a more diverse and complete unit than it was a season ago. If Jake Hausmann and Luke Farrell can pick up where they left off in bowl practce, then that will make this unit deeper than it has been in a pretty long time. Kevin Wilson's input making this a more productive and dynamic group would also be a pretty good thing.

Worst Case Scenario

Generally, as a tight end makes his way through a depth chart at Ohio State, they will redshirt as a freshman, and then help out with some blocking as a redshirt freshman. Since the Buckeyes return their top two tight ends, the worst-case scenario here would be if the redshirt freshmen don't see much of an opportunity to play this season, and so they don't maximize their reps and what they're being taught. The Buckeyes need at least a third tight end to emerge in order to push Marcus Baugh and A.J. Alexander. If they don't get that, Urban Meyer will be very disappointed.

One Good Spring Prediction

The tight end group as a whole excels and has Urban Meyer singing their praises by the end of the spring game.

One Bad Prediction

Brendon White moves to tight end, giving him a third position since January.

One Okay Prediction

Jake Hausmann will give a serious push for the No. 2 tight end spot by the end of camp.

Something to Watch For

There is nothing like the spring. Flowers are blooming, grass is greening, and passes are actually going to the tight ends. Given that spring football is the one time we are guaranteed to see passes to the tight ends, let's pay attention to who makes plays when the ball comes their way. Blocking is obviously a huge component here as well, but J.T. Barrett needs options this season, and one of those options should be the tight ends.

Reason for Optimism

Any time a team returns every scholarship player at a particular position, that's a reason for optimism all by itself. That's not the only reason, however, as this is now a deep and talented group that will be pushing each other to get better because the competition is as fierce as it's ever been. This group will be better in the fall than it is in the spring, and it should get better every day in the spring.

Reason for Pessimism

Marcus Baugh is the only guy here who has produced, so there is still a question of how much any one of these guys can be relied upon. A.J. Alexander is on the short side, so can he continue to hold up as the No. 2 tight end? How complete are the redshirt freshmen at this point? They'll have to start out as blockers, which is usually where the young guys struggle. Despite the talent on hand, the total experience is somewhat lacking.

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