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Despite massive defections to the NFL, Urban Meyer has the Ohio State Buckeyes in fantastic position to compete yet again in 2017. That is standard operating procedure in Columbus since Meyer’s arrival but, unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the team will reportedly be operating without a key piece of the offense for the entire 2017 season.

Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch reports that tight end A.J. Alexander suffered a knee injury and Eleven Warriors brings confirmation from an Ohio State spokesman on the ailment. According to the reports, the redshirt sophomore tight end needed surgery to repair the knee and the injury was suffered while playing basketball in the offseason.

Alexander currently sits at No. 2 on the Ohio State depth chart at the tight end position, backing up soon-to-be senior Marcus Baugh. In 2016, Alexander caught only four passes for 27 yards but his value is derived as a physical blocker at the point of attack and the Buckeyes are never afraid to deploy two tight ends on the field at the same time.

It remains to be seen if Alexander could, at least in theory, return for the end of the season but surgery indicates that a long recovery will be in the works and this is a blow to the Ohio State offense in mid-June.

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