Jags finally grab a tight end: blocking specialist Luke Farrell, who played for Urban Myer at OSU

Garry Smits
Florida Times-Union
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Ohio State tight end Luke Farrell (89), the Jaguars' fifth-round draft pick, caught only five passes for 37 yards in eight games last season.

Luke Farrell got the second phone call from Urban Meyer with life-changing news.

The Ohio State tight end was taken in the fifth round by the Jaguars on Saturday, a surprise pick by the team that has yet to add a pass-catching tight end to supplement veteran James O'Shaughnessy.

Farrell, who was primarily a blocker and special-teams player for the Buckeyes for four years, was recruited by Meyer in high school.

He remembers the call from Meyer in the office of his coach at Perry (Ohio) High School when he was a sophomore, so tongue-tied that Meyer prodded him by saying, "you know who this is, don't you?"

Meyers then proceeded to offer him a scholarship.

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This time, Farrell initially got the call from Ryan Stamper, the Jags' director of player assessment, who then handed the phone off to Meyer, who then offered Farrell a job.

"Welcome to Jacksonville," Meyer told Farrell.

"It was surreal," said the 6-foot-6, 258-pounder whose hometown is about 20 minutes from where Meyer grew up. "It was similar to the phone call in high school ... coming full circle from there. It's amazing. I couldn't be happier."

Meyer said both phone calls began about the same.

"He was a little tongue-tied again," Meyer said. "His people are my people. He's brilliant and he's tough. He's not the pass-catching tight end but one way to help a young quarterback is to have a successful run game."

Farrell did not put up numbers that dazzle anyone. He caught five passes for 37 yards and one touchdown in eight games for the Buckeyes in 2020, completing a college career in which he caught 34 passes for 380 yards, an 11.2 per-catch average and four scores.

He was red-shirted one season and played two for Meyer, in 2017 and 2018.

Farrell's lone touchdown of 2020 was huge -- an 8-yard reception from quarterback Justin Fields during Ohio State's 49-28 victory over Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal game in New Orleans.

Tight ends weren't emphasized in the Ohio State offense, although Jeremy Ruckert caught five touchdowns. Ruckert, Farrell and Jake Hausman combined for 19 receptions for 191 yards in 2020.

"It was a running joke in the tight end room, always vouching for ourselves and crying for more opportunities," Farrell said. "I knew I had a lot of value in what my job was and we had a lot of weapons in our offense."

After going the first 25 years of the franchise without drafting an Ohio State player, the Jags have taken two in the past two years. They selected defensive tackle, DaVon Hamilton, in the third round last season, who went on to become one of the most productive interior linemen before missing the final five games with a knee injury.Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke said just because OSU did not use tight ends very much doesn't mean Farrell can't be a pass-catcher.

"If you talk to Ohio state staff, they'll tell you underutilized their tight end corps as a whole," he said. "We went to his pro day and saw things that made you believe there’s some upside as a receiver and not just limited to a blocker as a tight end."

Farrell said that if the Jaguars drafted him for his blocking, they'd get a good one.

"I'm one of the best, if not the best, blocking tight end coming out of this class," he said. "But whatever they ask me to do, I can do that at a high level. I play the game with a lot of toughness in every aspect."

Farrell has other attributes. He was a good enough athlete to letter four years in basketball in high school and was a four-time member of the Big Ten's All-Academic team and graduated with a degree in human development and family studies.

The Jaguars had numerous chances to take a tight end in the draft before Farrell and passed on leading prospects Pat Freiermuth of Penn State, Hunter Long of Boston College, Tommy Tremble of Notre Dame and Brevin Jordan of Miami.

Jordan was on the board when the Jaguars made their two picks in the fourth round and when they selected Farrell with the first pick in the fifth. Houston then snatched Jordan two spots later.

In addition to 33-year-old Tim Tebow -- who played quarterback for two national championship teams at Florida under Meyer -- working out for the Jaguars, Meyer said the staff has toyed with making wide receiver Collin Johnson a "move" tight end but doesn't know if they put enough weight on his 6-6 frame.

"There's a concern right now," Meyer said of tight end.

He was asked if his past relationship with Tebow had anything to do with giving him a tryout with the team.

"I have one job, to win games," Meyer said. "If Tim Tebow or Luke Farrell can help us do that, we will."

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