The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and the role for Cade Stover next season? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
A leader is one who steps out in front of his peers. pic.twitter.com/boxmfjskkh
— Tim Hinton (@OSUCoachHinton) February 18, 2021
The transition wasn’t going to happen overnight, but just one week of spring practice at tight end was enough for Ohio State to know it had made the right move.
Cade Stover caught a handful of passes. He was showing off the kind of agility that once made him a weapon at running back in high school. And there was never any question about his willingness to do the dirty work as a blocker considering the way he had always sought out contact at linebacker or on special teams.
But Stover only got that one week of camp practices last March before the Buckeyes and the rest of the college-football world had to shut down due to the pandemic. And with three veterans ahead of him on the depth chart at tight end, he was in something of a holding pattern last season before his career on offense could really take off at Ohio State.
Now, though, Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann are gone. And if the Buckeyes are going to continue to unleash the two-tight end sets that have become such an asset for the attack, Stover is almost certainly going to have to emerge as one of them to complement Jeremy Ruckert.
“I think Cade, when you look at his skill set, his basketball background and his spatial awareness and things like that [are impressive],” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said last spring. “Then with his toughness, we think that he projects into being a really good tight end.”
The Buckeyes have perhaps the best in America returning thanks to Ruckert’s decision to stick around for another season, and that takes at least a bit of pressure off Stover’s shoulders since he won’t have to be the primary leader for the unit. But for a program that leans heavily on multiple tight ends to power to the offense even when they aren’t catching a ton of passes, there will still be plenty of attention on Stover when practice resumes for the Buckeyes this spring.
Stover has already earned some social-media buzz for his work in the offseason program, and another year to develop his 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame will only help when it comes to throwing around his body in the trenches. There also haven’t been any signs that he’s had to sacrifice his mobility or the ball-skills that made him both a two-way standout in football or a two-sport star at Lexington High School.
So, Cade Stover has everything the Buckeyes could want at tight end, which is why he wound up there last spring. After a brief delay a season ago, a full camp this year figures to the springboard he needs to become an impact contributor.
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