Ohio State football: OSU must utilize Jeremy Ruckert

The Ohio State football team doesn’t use their tight ends as much as they probably should. That could change in 2021 with Jeremy Ruckert.

When I began doing some research for this article I reached out, as I have before, to Dan Shonka of Ourlad’s NFL Scouting Services. Dan has been around football at all levels for a long time and I trust his opinion (read his bio here). This is what he told me about Buckeye tight end Jeremy Ruckert.

“Jeremy Ruckert is an extreme talent.”

A guy who has extensive experience evaluating players, including sixteen years in pro football, believes Ohio State has an extreme talent at tight end. But, here is what else he said,

“The only problem is Ohio State doesn’t feature their stud TE’s.”

How little has Ruckert been used in his first three years with the Buckeyes? He has a total of 28 career catches. An extreme talent with 28 career catches. He was the team’s third-leading receiver last year with just thirteen receptions.

Yes, it was a shortened season, but even if you average out his numbers over a fifteen-game schedule, that’s still only about 25 catches. Far too few for a guy like Ruckert. His nine career touchdown receptions backs up Shonka’s assertion Ruckert is an elite red zone talent.

I love how Ryan Day handles his offense and attacks defenses. I realize the Ohio State football team has a lot of weapons at receiver and there is only one football to go around. But, it is time to better utilize Ruckert.

The Ohio State football team can use Jeremy Ruckert as a matchup nightmare

Because of his size (6’5”, 256 pounds) and speed, he is a match-up nightmare for defenses. If you move him out to the slot every now and then, he’s too big for a safety to handle and too fast for a linebacker to stay with on a deep route.

Think Kansas City’s Travis Kelce in a Buckeye uniform. Now do you see where I’m going with this? They are almost identical in size, both can run and have excellent hands. Take a look at some of Kelce’s highlights from last year here. Notice how many times he releases down the field and what a handful he is to bring down after the catch. I firmly believe Ruckert can be this kind of weapon.

Kelce has averaged nearly 6.5 catches per game over the last three seasons. I’ll settle for half of that for Ruckert in the Ohio State offense. I don’t doubt the Buckeyes will be putting a scary offense on the field this year. Making Ruckert more a part of it will make it downright nightmarish.