Cade Stover Ohio State Buckeyes Tight End

Replacing Cade Stover: Buckeyes Have Variety Of Options For Tall Task

This is the eighth in a series looking at how the Buckeyes will be replacing their departed starters in 2024. Up next is a look at the tight end position vacated by the departure of Cade Stover.

If Cade Stover had opted to return to Ohio State in 2024 for a sixth season, he would have quite possibly left OSU as the most prolific pass catcher in the school’s history of tight ends. As it stands, however, he still ended up in the top five of most statistical categories — and that was based mostly on just two years of production as a starter.

Stover finished his Buckeye career with 82 catches for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns. Each of those numbers is good for third-best in school history, as were his 576 yards receiving in 2023. His 41 receptions last year were good for fourth-most in a season in school history.

Stover started out at linebacker as a true freshman but then moved to defensive end late in the 2019 season. He moved to tight end in 2020 and 2021 but moved back to linebacker late in the 2021 season, which is where he was also expected to be in 2022. Instead, he moved back to tight end prior to the 2022 season and capped his career in 2023 by being named the Big Ten’s Tight End of the Year.

The Candidates

Like Cade Stover, Gee Scott, Jr. also came to tight end via a position change. Scott was one of four wide receivers signed by the Buckeyes in the 2020 recruiting class. He made the position move a few years back with the understanding that this was not going to be an overnight process. Scott started three games last year.

True freshman Jelani Thurman also started a game last year, getting the nod with Scott in the Cotton Bowl due to an injury to Stover. Thurman still redshirted last year but has shown he is loaded with potential while still learning his craft. Bennett Christian missed last season as a redshirt freshman, and with the transfers of upperclassmen Joe Royer and Sam Hart, his opportunity for playing time has increased.

The Buckeyes signed a pair of true freshmen as well, but neither Damarion Witten or Max LeBlanc will be in for the spring, making them both redshirt candidates. Redshirting is also the nature of the position at Ohio State, however. Walk-on Patrick Gurd played in 10 games last year, including seven on offense.

Ohio State also went into the transfer portal and landed Ohio University tight end Will Kacmarek. Kacmarek was a big (6-6 256) and productive target at OU and could be again this year for the Buckeyes.

Spring Outlook

Gee Scott, Jr. will enter spring with the most experience at Ohio State and he will likely lead the room throughout camp. This will be Jelani Thurman’s second spring. Last year was a learning experience for him. This year should be a growing experience.

Will Kacmarek joins the Buckeyes with two years of eligibility remaining. His 42 career receptions are 19 more than the rest of Ohio State’s tight ends combined. But this is still going to be a bit of a learning process for him. Given that this is his fourth year in college, he should be able to pick things up quickly.

For Bennett Christian, this will be part of his ongoing opportunity to show what he can give to this offense. Some may view him as needing to make up for lost time, but tight end is such a developmental position that there is no strict timetable to follow. Everybody has their own blueprint, as evidenced by Cade Stover’s experience over the previous five years.

The Best Bet

Gee Scott, Jr. has trusted the process, and that process should have him as a starting tight end this season. With the tight end room being as versatile as it is, however, don’t be surprised if there is more than one starter. Will Kacmarek didn’t transfer to Ohio State to sit. He has 13 career starts to his credit, including 11 last season.

Some may view Scott as a receiving tight end and Kacmarek as a blocking tight end, but neither should be pigeonholed. Both have put in the work to be the kind of well-rounded tight end that plays all three downs. And while Jelani Thurman may be the future of the position, the present will likely be handled by the veterans.

However, with playoff expansion and the possibility of playing 16 or 17 games now upon us, there will be plenty of snaps available for more than just Scott and Kacmarek.

With a renewed emphasis on the running game this season, the real best bet should be placed on the best blocker of the bunch. This only being February, however, there is still an abundance of practice time to figure out exactly who that will be.


Replacing Quarterback Kyle McCord | Replacing Receiver Julian Fleming | Replacing Receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. | Replacing Nose Tackle Mike Hall | Replacing Linebacker Steele Chambers | Replacing Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg | Replacing Safety Josh Proctor

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