Total scholarship players: 4
Average class: Sophomore
Average star ranking: 3.5
Total returning starts: 18
A sure sign of depth at this position? Reid Fragel moved to offensive tackle and no one blinked an eye. Fragel was a productive player for three years, but he and the staff recognized his potential to be even better on the line, so he made the move this offseason.
The choice was no doubt made easier by what he left behind. That could be thrown into flux by Jacob Stoneburner’s summer suspension for a disorderly conduct charge, but the position looks to be in good hands assuming he is reinstated prior to the season opener against Miami (Ohio) in September.
Stoneburner is the team’s returning active leader in catches (37), yards (445) and touchdowns. The 6-5, 245-pound senior is a former receiver and presents matchup problems for opposing teams because of his speed, hands and ability to maneuver over the middle. He has developed into a dependable blocker over the years as well, and many expect him to flourish in Meyer’s spread offense.
Even if Stoneburner is not available, there appear to be a pair of candidates read to pick up the slack in sophomore Jeff Heuerman and redshirt freshman Nick Vannett.
The two were listed as a co-backups to Stoneburner, a fact that speaks to the strong offseason and spring Vannett turned in after Heuerman got a leg up on him last season in terms of playing time. Both provide big, athletic targets for quarterback Braxton Miller and appear to have the power to be productive blockers in the running game.
Future forecast: Blake Thomas, a three-star recruit from Cleveland St. Ignatius, joins the mix this fall after a standout career at one of Ohio’s storied high school programs. He is more known for his blocking than his offensive ability at this point in his career, but he offers depth in the immediate future with the potential for more down the road.
He is scheduled to be joined next year by Marcus Baugh, a four-star prospect in the class of 2013 who verbally committed to Ohio State during the spring. The No. 5 tight end in the country at this point in time, Baugh is athletic enough to be considered a prospect on defense, too, and should bring more play making to the position when he arrives in Columbus next year.
Current status: Deep
Future outlook: Positive