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Football: Cade Stover filling big shoes in move to tight end room

The Lantern
Ohio State sophomore tight end Cade Stover (16) and fifth-year tight end Luke Farrell practice a blocking drill during practice on Oct. 3. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

Cade Stover never took a snap as a tight end until he joined Ohio State.

In fact, he primarily played defense and was a four-star linebacker recruit from the class of 2019. Once Stover became a Buckeye, he practiced up front as a defensive end and made the switch to the tight end room in 2020.

Now, head coach Ryan Day expects him to fill a role once held by a now-professional Buckeye .

“We need him to replace Luke [Farrell],” Day said. “That’s really what we’re looking for.”

Day said Stover was recognized as an ‘iron Buckeye’ for his work during summer sessions with strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti. The recognition is a culmination of 11 consistent weeks and striving to improve with a strong work ethic. Day added that “something good is going to happen” when a player earns the distinction.

Stover credited his determination to his upbringing in Mansfield, Ohio, on his family farm where he said they sell freezer meat by raising about 80 angus cows and farming around 250 to 300 acres of corn.

He said he gets consistent FaceTime calls and videos from his parents with updates on the Stover family farm, and said his loved ones are very near to him.

“That’s everything, the way I was raised and the way my family is and the way I came up,” Stover said. “There’s not a night I’m not calling my mom and seeing my sisters. If I didn’t do that, they’d think I’m dead in a ditch somewhere maybe.”

Farming and playing a new position on the football field may seem like two very different things, but both rely on development and patience before yielding results.

Stover said he feels he’s in the swing of things within the tight end room, lining up next to Buckeyes such as seniors Jeremy Ruckert and Mitch Rossi in addition to sophomore wide receiver-turned-tight-end Gee Scott Jr.

Every once in a while Stover said there are aspects of the position he touches up, just like anything he does to get comfortable. He’s used to blocking, but said route running has been the biggest challenge since becoming a tight end.

“Blocking is really technical, a lot of different rules and footwork things you can do. Blocking is just more of a want to. Route running, that’s a craft,” Stover said. “You got to learn. This summer, I’d come in here at six at night and just work routes and work footwork. It’s something I had never done, so it’s getting better every day.”

Stover has contributed often on Ohio State’s special teams, playing in all eight games in 2020 while making three tackles and forcing a fumble at Michigan State.

Ruckert said there are “big shoes to fill” now that Farrell has moved on to the NFL, but has seen Stover become more of a dominant force over time.

The Mackey Award Watch List nominee said he’s seen football slow down for his younger teammate, and thinks Stover’s athleticism and determination are building a path toward boosting the Buckeyes’ tight end room.

“Luke did everything for us and did it at a really high level. Cade is on the right track,” Ruckert said. “His care factor is really, really high. He really wants to be great. He wants to push himself to be the best, and you see bits and pieces of it everyday and getting more efficient in that aspect.”

Stover said his background on defense has helped his understanding of offensive concepts, and he hopes to use that to his advantage when he can.

Still, Stover said there’s a big learning curve to learning tight end. But at the end of the day, he said he’s taking advantage of every opportunity during preseason practice and trusting his process.

“I’ve always hung my hat on being the hardest worker,” Stover said. “Whether it’s somebody that’s better than you, physically more talented than you, anything. As long as I’m taking care of what I can take care of, I think god’s going to take care of the rest. I’m just going to keep rolling from there.”

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