Feb. 2—COLUMBUS — Seth McLaughlin chose to transfer to Ohio State before Bill O'Brien was hired as the new offensive coordinator for the Buckeyes.
That means getting to reunite with him is a bonus.
"I was with Coach O'Brien for two years at Alabama, and we had a great time together," McLaughlin said. "We're very familiar with each other, and I loved having him as a coach. So I'm excited for that opportunity again."
O'Brien was the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots last season, but he spent the previous two years in the same role with the Crimson Tide.
McLaughlin was the starting center for his unit in 2022 and came away impressed.
"He's really good leader of men," McLaughlin said. "He's very knowledgeable in the game. He's coached some of the best players to ever play the game, and when you walk into a place like this, he's going to be having great players to coach.
"I think we can have a lot of success with them."
While McLaughlin made a name for himself at Alabama, the least-heralded member of Ohio State's 2024 incoming transfer class is not hard to identify.
He might have the least-noticeable role, too, but Will Kacmarek is used to all that.
He flew under the radar as a senior in St. Louis in 2021, a two-star defensive line prospect in a year muddled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the early impact of the transfer portal on high school recruiting.
Kacmarek said his only Division I FBS offer coming out of high school came from Ohio University, where he ended up catching 42 passes for 507 yards the last two seasons after moving to tight end and becoming a player multiple power programs showed interest in when he entered the transfer port.
"I knew since high school that I had this in me," he said this week. "The recruiting process was really difficult for me. It was a weird time with COVID and everything, and I was just blessed to get an offer from Ohio. And I just continued to work there and play my heart out for that team and then ultimately made the decision to enter the portal to try to make it to that next level where I thought I could eventually."
Kacmarek committed to Ohio State in late December prior to the Buckeyes picking up McLaughlin, Kansas State quarterback Will Howard, Alabama safety Caleb Downs and Mississippi running back Quinshon Judkins.
They all made headlines when they announced their decisions, primarily because they have already been standout players at Power 5 programs.
Ohio State also snagged Julian Sayin, a true freshman who has not done anything in college yet but is considered by some the top quarterback prospect in the class of 2024.
Then there is Kacmarek, a blocking tight end who is more worried about moving defensive ends on the field than moving the needle on social media.
"I believe I'm a selfless player," he said. "I'll do anything it takes to get the win or a first down or a yard. I like to play hard. I like to get my nose dirty, and I just love football."
He's joining a room that lost senior Cade Stover and multiple underclassmen transfers.
Gee Scott Jr., a fifth-year senior who like Stover appears to be a better receiver than blocker, returns along with Christian Bennett and Jelani Thurman, youngsters who have yet to prove what they can or can't do at the college level.
With Ohio State trying to use more two-tight end sets, Kacmarek could have a ready-made role for position coach Keenan Bailey this fall, but he is taking nothing for granted.
"Nothing is given free," he said. "I've gotta work for every minute of playing time, but (Bailey's) intention was definitely to bring in someone who can play that role and get that job done so that's why I'm here, and hopefully I can make that happen."