- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The wide receiver in Jake Stoneburner wants the ball.
The tight end in the senior realizes how valuable he can be as a blocker.
As Ohio State continues to take advantage of his versatility and potential to create physical mismatches, moving him all over the field, there are going to be games that feature one of the calling cards of those two positions more than the other. But when there are reception-less outings such as the one Stoneburner had last week against UAB, it certainly doesn't hurt to have something else to fall back on.
"I knew I blocked well, but I really didn't realize how well I blocked until the next day in film," Stoneburner said. "You know, you're always going to wish you caught the ball at least once, and I wasn't bummed out, but I wished I was able to make a play after the game.
"But that's kind of why they've got me out there. To make plays, but also to be able to seal the edge and have a big height and weight advantage over guys who are a lot smaller than me."
The Buckeyes certainly aren't opposed to using that same physical edge in the passing game. Stoneburner already has seven receptions -- three for touchdowns -- to his credit.
And it doesn't necessarily mean Ohio State wasn't using him as a target against the Blazers, particularly since he primarily split out wide in the formation. But while Stoneburner can't control how a team covers him when he's running routes, he can obviously determine his success when called to take on those defenders at the point of attack in the running game -- and his grade for that last week was high enough to earn him "Champion" status from Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer without needing any extra credit for a catch.
"He scored a couple touchdowns the week before, so it wasn't by design," Meyer said. "One thing is you can't dictate it; the defense dictates where the ball is going to go. But the thing is, with some of our plays you have to have a grown man out there blocking the edge, and he did a great job last week -- and he should.
"He's a bigger man, and he should be able to do that for us."
Stoneburner might prefer to contribute a little bit more on the stats sheet, but considering the recognition he has received personally, along with his team's 4-0 record, there's not much for him to complain about as the Buckeyes gear up for their biggest test of the season Saturday at Michigan State.
They're again going to need a strong, veteran presence to open up holes against the Big Ten's best rushing defense. They're also going to need another option down the field to try to stretch out the Spartans with some explosive plays in the passing game.
And while last week might have featured one of those things more prominently for Stoneburner, he's more than capable of delivering both.
"We won [last week], so I was happy with that," he said. "Just the way UAB's defense was and the coverages they were having, the other guys were able to get open. A couple times they were just taking me out of the routes, and I'm fine with that as long as some other guy is open. I just went out there to do my job.
"We're 4-0, I've got a couple touchdowns. I'm fine with where my role is at. Of course, who wouldn't want to get the ball more?"
Even if he doesn't, there's plenty of evidence that Stoneburner can make a mark without ever touching the ball.
Jake Stoneburner has wide receiver skills, but the senior tight end's blocking prowess allows him to make a positive impact even if he doesn't catch the ball.