Football

Sam Hart Has Time to Develop at Tight End for Buckeyes

Every day until fall camp begins for Ohio State we will profile a different Buckeye football player. Today that player is true freshman tight end Sam Hart. Yesterday it was offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby. You can find all of the daily Scoop Profiles right here.

Sam Hart

No. 81 | Tight End | 6-4 240 | Freshman | Cherokee Trail High School | Aurora, Colorado

How’d He Get Here

The Buckeyes were one of the first major offers for Sam Hart. They offered him May 9, 2019 and the next day the LSU Tigers did the same. Virginia Tech, Penn State, Texas, and Notre Dame offered over the next month. Over the summer he visited LSU and Washington while adding offers from Georgia Tech, Tennessee, and Minnesota. Ever on the lookout for a talented tight end, Michigan threw their winged hat into the ring in early December. A few weeks later, Hart committed to Ohio State. One year later he would go on to sign with the Buckeyes. Hart was a Second-Team All-State selection in 2019 after catching 31 passes for 562 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a three-star prospect in the 2021 class and ranked the No. 393 player overall and the No. 16 tight end in the nation.

Current Situation

Tight end has gone from a position of concern after last season to possibly a position of significant — if not intriguing — depth. When Jeremy Ruckert put the NFL on hold for a year and decided to return, that gave the Buckeyes a huge boost. The continued development of redshirt sophomore Cade Stover appears to be going very well. The move of sophomore receiver Gee Scott to tight end creates more of a logjam at the position, especially for a young player like Sam Hart. Redshirt freshman Joe Royer gives Ohio State another talented option. While this is a room with depth, Ruckert is the only established tight end on the scholarship roster, which means there is room for somebody to make a move.

What to Like

Sam Hart is an athletic receiver who can get down the field and make catches in traffic. He can also outsize coverage and then break tackles. Then after the catch, he is fast enough to gain some distance on linebackers. In high school, his Cherokee Trail team also utilized him on screen plays, which was an effective way to get the ball in his hands. The good thing is that he has experience playing tight end in high school, which really isn’t something that any of Ohio State’s other tight ends have. The learning curve should be lessened thanks to his experience on the line.

What’s the Ceiling This Year?

It is unusual for a true freshman tight end to make it into the two-deep at Ohio State and it would be unlikely for Sam Hart to get there this year even if he does reach his ceiling. But he certainly could work his way into a role as a third tight end on running downs, should his blocking merit the move. Blocking is what holds most young tight ends back because they’ve never had to block anybody like they’ll be blocking in college. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hart redshirt this year, but he should still get his four games in and don’t be surprised when he comes away with a handful of catches.

And Beyond?

Sam Hart may be the youngest tight end on the roster, but he is now also one of three tight ends who could technically be considered true freshmen. The Buckeyes will add two more tight ends in the 2022 recruiting class, giving them six on scholarship next year. Those six will create a heck of a competition and Sam Hart will be right in the middle. The good news for him is that he’ll have experience on the incoming freshmen. He will have some catching up to do on Cade Stover and Joe Royer this year and next, and Gee Scott presents an entirely different kind of competition. By the time Hart is a redshirt freshman, however, he should be in the regular rotation and helping out in both the running game and passing game. Then, like just about every Ohio State tight end before him, as long as he stays healthy and stays at OSU, he’ll eventually be cashing checks from the NFL. How long those checks last, however, is always the real question mark.