COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The back and forth position change between linebacker and tight end is over, at least for the time being, for Cade Stover.
The 6’4″ 255-pound junior was originally recruited to Ohio State as a linebacker where he ranked eighth in the country for the class of 2019.
He began his OSU career as a linebacker but switched to defensive end late in his freshman season. But going into his sophomore year, head coach Ryan Day and offensive coordinator coach Kevin Wilson saw the skills and size of a tight end.
He was buried on the depth chart the last two years behind Luke Ferrell and Jeremy Ruckert, the former a 5th round draft pick last year and the latter a projected 4th round pick this year.
“When I first moved over to tight end, it was more or less a learning curve,” Stover said. “I never played it, so I learned how to take that energy and passion but also keep that technique and now I know the scheme enough to where I can just go.”
But his experience at linebacker was needed in the second half of Ohio State’s Rose Bowl game against Utah where he played significant snaps in the Buckeyes’ win. He began spring drills practicing with the linebackers, who are led by new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, but switched back to tight end earlier this week.
“I had a good time on defense, I love playing defense but I’m just trying to bring what I did on defense over here to the offense and so far I’ve done that and I’m a lot happier,” Stover said.
Even though he’s made the switch back to offense, he still has the mentality of a defensive bruiser.
“I mean you’re just trying to maul people really. Whoever’s in front of you you’re just trying to really flat out put him on his back,” he said.
Stover will compete for the job with sophomore Joe Royer, senior Mitch Rossi and junior Gee Scott Jr. but OSU is not afraid to use two tight ends at the same time, a package known as “12-personnel.”
“Me and Cade are real close friends, so it’s nothing hostile but we’re all just competing, trying to get each other better,” Royer said. “He’s more of an in-line guy and I think I compliment him with being the H-back if we’re in 12 [personnel] or split out I can be that guy.”
Day has said Rossi, who is not able to practice this spring with an undisclosed injury, will also be in the tight-end rotation after serving as a full back, H-back hybrid last season.