Is Incoming Five-Star Linebacker Sam Hubbard Now a Tight End?
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — This past weekend OSU tight ends coach Tim Hinton and his position group went out boating for some wake boarding and team building and whatnot. Photos were tweeted of the outing on Sunday and imagine the surprise when incoming freshman linebacker Sam Hubbard was part of the group.
When asked about the rumors on Twitter and whether he had moved to tight end, Hubbard responded with a simple "yeah".
If you'll recall, Hubbard was a five-star linebacker signee, who at 6-foot-5 and 220-odd pounds, played safety in high school. He was among the group of freshman linebackers that Urban Meyer said would not be redshirting this season.
While Ohio State has not confirmed the move, it would make a ton of sense for the Buckeyes moving forward. As I wrote a month ago, Hubbard was a possibility to move to tight end given the struggles Ohio State was having getting a tight end commit in the 2015 class.
When Hubbard committed to Ohio State in April of 2013, scout John McCallister told me that he liked Hubbard on defense, but thought that he could be special on offense.
Hubbard, who will play at around 240-250 pounds in 2014 -- and by some accounts he is already there -- is an extremely athletic big man, as evidenced by his recent past as a safety and lacrosse player. He is not a lumberer, he is quick and fast, he just happens to be nearly 6-foot-6.
Let's not forget that he has been timed in the 4.5s and has spent his high school career shadowing receivers and tight ends. Now he could be putting that knowledge, experience and speed to work on the offensive side of the ball.
If the move does occur, it was made possible by the fact that two of Ohio State's most impressive players on defense this spring played the same position that Hubbard was slated to start out at.
Darron Lee and Chris Worley both excelled at the Sam linebacker spot, and with each of them being just second-year players, there doesn't seem to be an immediate need at the position right now.
Worley is a redshirt freshman and the hope is that Lee will be granted a redshirt for last season as well. They don't need three freshman Sam linebackers in 2014, so a move makes sense. It would also be a statement as to how Meyer and Luke Fickell feel about the current overall situation at linebacker.
Where there is a need for the Buckeyes, however, is at tight end, although that need won't be readily apparent until 2015.
Ohio State wanted to take two tight ends in the 2015 class, and with their top targets going elsewhere, they don't want to reach on two prospects. They don't really want to reach on any prospects, but a Hubbard move to tight end would allow them to take a chance on a guy.
Hubbard would also be given the luxury of redshirting and learning the position. He would have had to learn linebacker as well, so it's not like his timetable is set back at all by this move.
Ohio State currently has four scholarship tight ends on the roster.
||Jeff Heuerman (6-5 255)
||Nick Vannett (6-6 260)
||Marcus Baugh (6-4 248)
||J.T. Moore (6-3 260)
In terms of production reliance, there is never a need for a fourth tight end, and the Buckeyes have at times gotten by with just two over the years.
In 2014, there really is no need for Hubbard in this group unless he simply beats out Marcus Baugh and J.T. Moore. If that were to happen, then all bets would be off. As it stands now, however, this is a tailor-made redshirt year.
In 2015, with Jeff Heuerman and Moore gone, there would certainly be a need for a third tight end, and that could very well be Hubbard. The Buckeyes should be bringing in some type of tight end in the 2015 class, but they might want to redshirt him if he is running fourth on the depth chart, which he likely would be.
The 2016 lineup could then feature Baugh as a redshirt junior and Hubbard as a redshirt sophomore, and possibly 2016 recruit Jake Hausmann, who is rated as the nation's #1 tight end in the class.
Of course, until the news is confirmed, this may all just be a fun little ruse by Hubbard. But if it isn't, it makes all the sense in the world.
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