Redshirt junior tight end Marcus Baugh has some big shoes to fill.
The last two starting tight ends for Ohio State, Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett, were picked in the third round of the 2015 and 2016 NFL Drafts, respectively. Now in 2016, Baugh has a chance to make an impression as the next starting tight end for the Buckeye offense.
Even though both Heuerman and Vannett were drafted fairly high in their respective drafts, the tight end position has not been a prominent role in the Buckeye offensive scheme for the past couple of seasons. Heuerman, in 2013, was the last OSU tight end to record over 20 receptions in a season.
Despite tight ends combining for only 194 yards and one touchdown on 21 receptions last season, Baugh is confident that his group will play a bigger role in 2016.
“Right now I have a pretty good role on offense,” Baugh said. “We changed some reads to where I’ll be the first read or on some, if the first read is covered, I’ll be the second read.”
Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Ed Warinner made it clear that the reads Baugh was referring to are just quicker options for redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett to get the ball to the tight end on plays. Warinner is making sure that his offense, especially Baugh, are ready to contribute at a high level.
“We have certain segments where we emphasize the tempo,” Warinner said. “We’re trying to find out who the consistent playmakers are. Marcus has shown that he can be one.”
Baugh, a four-star recruit in 2013 from John W. North High School in Riverside, California, saw his first significant action in the passing game in the 2016 spring game. Barrett found Baugh over the middle numerous times adding up to seven receptions and 64 yards.
It was a quiet but distinct performance in an objectively insignificant game. But that’s who Baugh is as a football player.
“Marcus is quiet by nature,” Warinner said. “But in our small group with the tight ends, he does a great job … talking to them, leading them and trying to have them understand the Buckeye way and the right way to do things.”
He leads a room of young, highly touted tight end recruits who could serve big roles in future OSU offenses, as well as this one. Redshirt freshman A.J. Alexander has been taking reps with the second-string, and freshman Jake Hausmann is close behind him.
Warinner said that Baugh is taking steps toward ensuring the success of younger players below him on the depth chart.
“They actually do know a lot,” Baugh said about Alexander and Hausman. “I don’t really have to tell them anything. I just got to get them to the point where if something happens and they go in, they’ll be ready.”
With statistical expectations low, Baugh has the chance to surpass expectations for a historically underwhelming yet highly touted tight end position.