COLUMBUS – Cade Stover might be the most traveled player on Ohio State’s football roster without ever leaving OSU’s 43210 zip code.
The 6-4, 255-pound junior from Lexington was recruited as a linebacker, then was moved to defensive end. He was a back-up tight end last season before going back to linebacker for the Rose Bowl and it appeared he might stay there.
But in the last week he has been back at tight end in the Buckeyes’ spring practices.
OSU coach Ryan Day said the decision to go back to tight end was Stover’s and indicated the chance for more playing time might have played a role in that choice. “At the end of the day it was really up to him. I think moving forward he has a huge ceiling at tight end. When you look at the work he’s put in the last year and his skill set he’s got a chance to be a really good tight end,” Day said.
“I think the thing he would tell you is he wants to bring that same defensive mentality to the offense. He can do that. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s athletic. He has really good ball skills. He’s back at tight end and he’s had a really good week of practices.
“We’ve had constant conversations since the Rose Bowl,” Day said. “We want to put him in the best position to be successful. Now that he’s been there (tight end) for a couple of practices we’ll talk about it. He needs to focus on something for a while in order to be successful. He can’t keep bouncing around.”
Last year’s No. 1 tight end, Jeremy Ruckert, played his final game for Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Mitch Rossi, another back-up tight end last season, is injured and not participating in spring practice. Former wide receiver Gee Scott Jr. and Joe Royer are smaller tight ends better known for their receiving abilities than their blocking.
But there is no guarantee this is Stover’s final position change. “You just never say never. That’s what I told him. And now he’s focused on tight end,” Day said.
PROCTOR IN DRILLS: Safety Josh Proctor was observed doing some individual work in practice on Tuesday. Proctor suffered a broken leg in Ohio State’s second game, a 35-28 loss to Oregon, last season.
“I wish he could do more. He’s just kind of getting started and moving around. It’s been a long road for him to come back from. He’s kind of inching his way back. But that’s OK. It’s a long way to August,” Day said.
Losing Proctor was a big hit for OSU’s defense last season.
“He’s rangy. He can cover a lot of ground. He’s extremely physical. He will absolutely get after you, whether it’s receivers downfield or coming up and playing the run game,” Day said. “He also has really good ball skills. He can track the ball and when he’s playing at his best, he’s all over the place. He plays with discipline. He can really affect the game in a lot of areas.”
JONES AND THE NFL: Offensive tackle Dawand Jones debated entering the NFL draft but ultimately decided to return to Ohio State. “There was conversation in the building. I know there was conversation outside the building. You just identify where you think you could go in the draft and decide whether that makes sense for you and your future. He wanted to come back and be a first or second rounder,” Day said.
“I don’t think there is any question he has the talent and he has the ability to be one of the better tackles in the country. There are certain things he’s going to have to get accomplished in the off season and during next season to get to that point. I think consistency is going to be one of them. But he has done some good things and I think he knows what those things are that he needs to get done.”
VINCENT IMPRESSES: After a strong performance in the Rose Bowl defensive tackle Taron
Vincent has been impressive in spring practice, Day said.
“He had really good games. He flashed at times. He has a lot of ability. He’s gotten off to a really good start this spring and I think he’s got some leadership skills. If we’re going to get to where we want to be on defense he’s going to be a big part of it,” Day said.
HENDERSON AMONG THE BEST: Day said sophomore running back TreVeyon Henderson could be among the best running backs in college football.
“He has the potential to be as good as anybody in the country. I think with a year under his belt he has more confidence. He has certain things he wants to get done this spring. He has a good look in his eye. He is a very serious young man. He sets a standard for everybody in the building. I think his potential is as good, as big as anybody in the country,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau