When Urban Meyer walked through the doors at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on campus at The Ohio State University, everyone knew that the offense would look completely different. The ‘I’ formation would be long gone and the Buckeyes would be exclusively in the shotgun, eliminating the need for fulltime fullback. But what did that mean for the tight end position? Contrary to popular belief, tight ends can be successful (at least on the field) in a Meyer-run offense as we saw with Aaron Hernandez at Florida. Now entering his redshirt sophomore season as a Buckeye, Ohio State fans can look to see more from tight end Nick Vannett.
Vannett played his high school football at Westerville Central High School which is also home to former Buckeye punter Ben Buchanan. As a senior, Vannett totaled 47 catches for 606 yards and eight touchdowns while earning all-Ohio, all-metro, all-OCC and all-district honors. Vannett was also named to three high school All-Star games which included the Big 33 game, Offense-Defense Bowl and the Ohio North-South Classic. In addition to his multiple accomplishments on the gridiron, Vannett was a two-sport athlete as he earned letters in basketball while at Westerville Central.
A member of the 2011 recruiting class, Vannett redshirted his first season in Columbus while Jake Stoneburner collected the majority of the reps at tight end. Enter the 2012 season, in which Vannett went from playing zero games the year before to playing in all 12 games his redshirt freshman year. Vannett finished the 2012 season fifth on the team in receptions and yards totaling nine catches for 123 yards and zero touchdowns. While these numbers do not jump off the page, they were good enough to lead the tight end position (this is assuming Stoneburner was considered a WR for the 2012 season) in receptions and yards.
Coming into the 2013 season and his redshirt sophomore year, Vannett is likely to see a lot more playing time coming his way. With the departures of Zach Boren and Stoneburner, Vannett will be used both as a blocker and pass catcher for the Buckeye offense. Vannett, along with fellow tight end Jeff Heuerman, will line up mostly in a two point stance off-set of the tackle which puts them in perfect position to lead block for the backs or leak out into a passing pattern. This was the case in 2012 as Vannett made his biggest plays last season off of play action passes. His two longest receptions of 2012 were of 32 against Nebraska, and 31 yards against Illinois respectively both on play fakes to the running back. With a 6’6 255 frame, Vannett can be a very useful target for quarterback Braxton Miller and the 2013 Ohio State offense.