One of the most underrated players on Ohio State's offense, senior tight end Jeff Heuerman, had successful surgery on the foot he sprained last week, which will keep him in a boot and on the sideline for the remaining portion of spring practice.
Head coach Urban Meyer confirmed the news Tuesday evening, per Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors:
Urban Meyer confirms Jeff Heuerman had surgery on his sprained foot. Meyer said he'll be in a cast/boot for six weeks.— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) April 1, 2014
Heuerman finished last season third on the team with 26 receptions and 466 receiving yards. All six of his 50-yard receiving games came in the second half of the season, starting with a career-high 116 yards on five catches against Purdue Nov. 2.
The absence of the senior tight end might affect the rest of the team more than Heuerman himself. Having been through this now multiple times, Heuerman doesn't need the reps as much as the younger players on the roster need a leader.
Here's what Doug Lesmerises of the Columbus Dispatch wrote before spring practice when he listed Heuerman as one of five Buckeyes "on the spot":
With quarterback Braxton Miller and receiver Evan Spencer sidelined, the only senior starters on offense who will be out there for the first day of practice are Heuerman and receiver Devin Smith.
Heuerman may never catch a ton of passes, but he has the build and skills to be a high-round NFL pick with a strong senior season.
First, he’ll have to rally the troops. Leadership was a major topic for Urban Meyer last year. If players like Heuerman and Smith on offense and Michael Bennett, Doran Grant and Curtis Grant on defense fill their senior roles, Meyer may not have to talk about it so much this year.
Nick Vannett, a junior who caught eight passes for 80 yards and a touchdown as Heuerman's backup last season, will now likely get the majority of tight end reps for the rest of fall camp and in the spring game. Also in the mix is Marcus Baugh, a top-100 recruit in the class of 2013 who redshirted last year but has been arrested for underage drinking twice since arriving last July—most recently in January 2014, according to Austin Ward of ESPN.com.
Ohio State will hold its spring game Saturday, April 12 at 1:30 ET.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT