Redshirt Freshman P/S – Kevin Niehoff
Hailing from Mason, Ohio, Kevin Niehoff walked on to Ohio State’s football program in 2012, as a punter. Despite Niehoff’s ability to punt the ball, he was moved to safety upon his arrival at The Ohio State University. Kevin failed to see the field in 2012 and was given a redshirt by the Buckeyes’ coaching staff. Niehoff will have ample opportunity to earn playing time in 2013 but whether it will be at punter, safety or special teams is still up for debate.
The town of Mason is roughly 25 minutes north of Cincinnati and it does not take long to realize that the Queen city runs thick in Kevin’s blood. His father, Rob Niehoff, played college football at the University of Cincinnati and later in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals, as a defensive back. Despite the family ties to the Bearcats, Kevin grew up rooting for the Ohio State Buckeyes. When Niehoff received the invitation to walk on to the Buckeyes’ football team, he wasted no time committing.
While at Mason High School, Kevin lettered in baseball and basketball, as well as football. He was a tremendously gifted punter but was named to the Greater Miami All-Conference Team, as a wide receiver. In his senior season, Niehoff caught 27 passes for 366 yards and five touchdowns. It is no surprise as to why the Ohio State coaching staff showed interest in him, given his level of athleticism.
On April 13, 2013, in front of a home crowd at Paul Brown Stadium, Kevin Niehoff proved that he came to Ohio State to earn playing time, along with a scholarship, when he recorded the Spring Game’s only interception. While lined up at safety, Kevin Niehoff played a pass from Cardale Jones to Michael Thomas perfectly and made the interception
Niehoff picks off Cardale Jones’ pass in the Spring Game.
Although the Buckeyes are an extremely deep team this year, Niehoff’s versatility will give him an opportunity to see the field. Special teams is the most likely route for Kevin – defending kickoffs and punts, or possibly even doing the punting himself. At this point in spring practice, however, it seems doubtful that he will become the starting punter in 2013.
When Jim Tressel was in charge at Ohio State, he preferred to extend scholarship offers to walk-on players that were already with the team, to award them for their hard work, instead of over-signing the following year’s recruiting class. Those are the type of things that made Jim Tressel such an admirable human being. I hope Urban Meyer follows in his footsteps and offers players like Kevin Niehoff scholarship offers as well.