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Jeremy Ruckert is the elite TE recruit who could change Ohio State’s reputation

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He models his game after Gronk, and you can see some similarities.

Jeremy Ruckert committed to Ohio State in July over offers from finalists Michigan, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame, then officially signed in December.

Ruckert is the No. 1 tight end in the class of 2018 on the industry-consensus 247Sports Composite. Evaluators have bumped him upward after he turned in a dominant performance at The Opening, the top Nike showcase. I’ve only been doing this for a few years, but Ruckert’s the best prep tight end I’ve watched in person and one of the best prospects, period.

The Buckeyes recruited Ruckert harder than anyone, and they were the favorites. A look at what Urban Meyer is getting:

Ohio State has cultivated a reputation for not throwing to its tight ends. That’s part fair, part overblown.

TE Marcus Baugh was the third-most frequent target on the roster in 2016 before falling to seventh in 2017, and Nick Vannett sixth-most the year before that.

On another hand, Ohio State runs a lot and uses RB-sized players as H-backs, and tight ends have given up a lot in service of that. In Meyer’s six seasons in Columbus, no Buckeye tight end has caught more than 26 passes in a season. Ruckert would top that eventually.

“My main focus is to bring a kind of savviness and kind of stylish take to the position,” he says.

“Obviously you’ve gotta stick your nose down and get in people’s faces. But the way the game’s moving nowadays, you’ve gotta be athletic and be able to go make plays, because the quarterback, you’re their safety blanket. They wanna be able to look at you, and now you’re gonna come down with it, and that’s what I really try and do.”

About 6’6, he has the reach and hands to catch any ball that’s close to him. He’s got the speed to do damage after the catch, too. He’ll be a scary figure for new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.

Ruckert’s talent isn’t the only unique thing about him.

He hails from Lindenhurst, N.Y., a village on Long Island. The state of New York produces few elite recruits, and Long Island is the opposite of a hotbed. But Ruckert has emerged anyway.

“I definitely take pride in it, come in with a chip on my shoulder,” Ruckert told me at The Opening, which was packed with Texans and Floridians and Californians. “I’m the only one from New York here, Long Island, to be exact. Long Island, not many high recruits come out of there.”

“Coming into this, I had a lot of goals I wanted to reach,” he added. “One of those is bringing a good name and a good reputation to New York football. So, I mean, yeah. I definitely take that personal, and I wanna bring New York the attention it deserves.”

Ruckert’s on-field role model is Rob Gronkowski. It’s hard to be Gronk, but it’s not hard to see Ruckert eventually reaching the highest tier at the position.

“Not only can he make circus catches and run a route and run by people, but he can really stick his nose in the ground and pancake people and run over people,” Ruckert said. “So, I mean, modeling him on the field, you can’t get any better than that.”