Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert, a former Lindenhurst star,...

Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert, a former Lindenhurst star, makes a brilliant one-handed catch in front of Alabama linebacker Christian Harris in the College Football Playoff national championship game on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Florida. The 36-yard catch set up Ohio State's first touchdown. Credit: AP/Chris O'Meara

Tight end Jeremy Ruckert has decided to return to Ohio State for his senior year rather than declare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

"I spoke with my family and we thought it was the right decision," said the former Lindenhurst star, who is back home on Long Island. "I spoke to my coaches and a few NFL scouts to see where I could land in the draft. The thinking was that I’d have a shot somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds, so I thought I could improve on that."

Ruckert, 20, who is 6-5, 254, still is maturing physically and thinks another year at Ohio State will greatly enhance his draft position in 2022. He sought the advice of Ohio State coach Ryan Day before deciding.

"I spoke to Coach Day about increasing my draft value and what I needed to do to accomplish that," Ruckert said. "And I wanted to know what they could do to help me in that regard. He told me we were losing a great player in our quarterback, Justin Fields, and there’d be some changes in the offense. And the coach knows I’m going to do whatever I need to contribute to this team. And in return, I know he’s going to help me be a better player and have opportunities when I’m done here."

Ruckert will graduate this summer after only three years of school, majoring in human development and family science. His commitment in the weight room with strength trainer Mickey Marotti has helped transform him into a prototypical NFL tight end.

"It’s all about the weight room and nutrition and my body is still changing and developing," Ruckert said. "I need to build more muscle mass and yet stay lean enough to be able to move quickly. That will be my focus this year."

The sure-handed Ruckert would like to have more opportunities to catch the ball. He has caught 28 passes for 306 yards and nine touchdowns in three years in the Buckeyes’ run-first offense, including a spectacular one-handed reception for 36 yards in the CFP national championship game against Alabama. He is the ideal combo of size and receiving talent and has greatly improved his blocking skills.

"He is really excited about getting back to work and the opportunity to shoot for another national championship," Lindenhurst football coach Nick Lombardo said. "He really loves the city of Columbus and the Ohio State football program. I’m looking forward to seeing him play because the pandemic made that impossible this year. I have no doubt his next uniform change will come at the NFL level."

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