COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — It’s easy for Ohio State tight end Cade Stover to get lost in the wash, especially when people start ticking off the playmakers on the Buckeyes roster.
Tight end has been little more than a glorified blocker in the Buckeyes’ scheme in recent seasons, but that may be changing with the emergence of Stover, who is as tough as they come yet can stretch the seam and outrun linebackers to the edge when he has the football in his hands.
Stover entered Ohio State’s Big Ten-opening showdown with Wisconsin as the Buckeyes’ third-leading receiver, grabbing eight passes for 137 yards. He scored his first career touchdown against Wisconsin with a nice finesse move off the line, which belies his natural personality, then added another later on.
“We just want to be tough, to be honest with you,” Stover said. “We know we’ve got athletes. We know we’ve got skill. But toughness — that’s a learned trait. We’re really coming along in that aspect. We’re trying to come out there being fast (and) physical. As talented as we’re trying to get after people. We’re trying to get tough and win ball games.”
Stover was infused with a work ethic from an early age by growing up on a farm in Lexington, Ohio. Every day was a work day.
“You can’t take days off,” Stover said. “It’s impossible. Christmas, cows eat. Thanksgiving, cows eat. Your birthday, cows eat. They don’t take days off, so why should you?
“When you think about a farmer, you think about a country fella, you’re a blue-collared tough person. My dad’s the toughest dude. If I could be any person, that’s who I would be. … There’s just a presence about a tough person that you want to be around.”
Stover has been all over the place for the Buckeyes, starting his career on defense. He’s played linebacker and defensive end but knows any football future that involves money means shifting to offense. He runs with attitude and doesn’t mind contact, even with the ball in his hands.
“That’s been my M.O. from the time I started playing football,” Stover said. “There’s something about (saying) I’m physically going to run through you, and you can’t do anything about it. There’s no words for it. If I tried to lose it I couldn’t lose it anyway.”
Day said if the coaches could draw up a prototype for a tight end, Stover would be the blueprint.
“That’s what we kind of want out of the tight end position and when he’s had his opportunities he’s made plays so far,” Day said. “But you can see first off that he can block, he’s done a good job in protection and now he’s showing what he can do on the perimeter and certainly in run-pass conflicts.
“He can run, he’s an athletic player, he was a really good basketball player in high school, he’s got good ball skills. When you’re playing tight end you have to do so many different job descriptions, and it’s just a developmental position, but we saw the skill sets in him, personally, I saw it a few years ago.”