One of the most intriguing stories of the offseason came about on Sunday when Urban Meyer told reporters at Ohio State's media day that, while tight end Jake Stoneburner had been practicing, he wasn't a tight end anymore—he had been moved to wide receiver.
That's 6'5", 245-pound Jake Stoneburner, mind you...at wide receiver.
“We’ve now officially moved him; he’s now out with the receivers,” Meyer said yesterday.
Stoneburner, unavailable for comment yesterday, won’t be a deep threat. Meyer compared him to New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who lined up in many places when he played for Meyer at Florida.
“He’s going to be our Hernandez-type guy, a guy that can do some things,” Meyer said.
It's interesting to note that Stoneburner came into Ohio State as a wide receiver, so this isn't unfamiliar territory for him. As mentioned earlier, he's up to 245 pounds, though, so the wheels he flashed in high school when he was at 223 pounds (per Rivals) aren't going to be there as much.
But make no mistake: Stoneburner can make this work, because the guy can still move in the open field as well as any tight end in the Big Ten. Check out his work on this screen pass from Braxton Miller:
So, between that athleticism and the hilarious size mismatch he'd have over basically every single cornerback in the nation, this is a solid move for Stoneburner and one he can make work.
What this means for Ohio State, meanwhile, is an offense that is as well-built for power football as any in the conference.
The offensive line is turning into one of the best in the league. Meyer's happy with Jeff Heuerman (6'5", 247) and Nick Vannett (6'6", 248) at tight end, RB Carlos Hyde is one of the best power backs in the Big Ten and now Stoneburner's splitting out wide.
Defenses will have to adjust pretty dramatically to this personnel package. That means putting a lot of big bodies on the field, and that would be a great counterattack if it weren't for the fact that Braxton Miller is taking the snap on every play. The less defensive speed you have, the more lethal Miller is on the move—and he looked plenty lethal as a true freshman last year.
The passing game will still suffer a bit for this. Stoneburner is a top-level tight end, but not a transcendent talent overall, and it doesn't take much defensive creativity to limit the opposite receiver's productivity (especially if that opposite receiver is Corey Brown and not, well, someone really good).
What Ohio State really needs is more quality from its receivers, and this move by Meyer seems to indicate that he doesn't think he has two starters in that mix.
At the very least, Ohio State's wideouts are young, so they'll grow into the role for 2013 and beyond. But in terms of what OSU has on the field right now, for 2012? It's clearly pretty bleak without Stoneburner.