Ohio State tight end Cade Stover suffered an upper hip/lower back injury and was taken to the locker room in the first half of Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinal against No. 1 Georgia. Stover was taken to a local hospital with back spasms.
“Brother no matter what happens, I love you, I’ve got you,” Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud told Stover before being taken to the hospital.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2019 who has transformed into an invaluable piece of the Buckeyes’ potent 2022 offense. Stover entered Saturday with 35 receptions for 399 yards and five touchdowns this season. He was an All-Big Ten selection.
Even with Stover sidelined, Ohio State entered halftime with a 28-24 lead over the top-ranked Dawgs. TCU awaits the victor after slaying Michigan 51-45 in a Fiesta Bowl thriller.
Stover had been dealing with injuries throughout the regular season but entered the College Football Playoff feeling much improved.
“Everybody is banged up at the end of the season,” Stover said this week. “Whether how much it affected me or not, I’ll never admit it because that’s just the way it is. You can’t be like that. You’re playing football. You signed up to get beat up, so you’d better play beat up. Last couple weeks have been nice, though, to kind of get your feet back underneath you here, and hopefully we’ll come into this game healthy.”
Ohio State’s offense is filled with big-name stars but Stover had worked tirelessly to carve out a role. He earned Stroud’s trust in the offseason, and it’s been on full display this season.
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“Me and Cade have put in a lot of work this offseason, trying to make him more of a pass-catcher,” Stroud said. “He was naturally good at running routes, he just didn’t know the reason why he was running his routes and where he had to be at a certain time. He was really getting man (defense), but in the offseason, we worked a lot on his zone routes, trying to get open in the right time and right space. It’s been building ever since. I missed him on a couple of other throws, but we’ll get back to work. In our individual periods when we’re by ourselves, Cade will come over and run routes with us and that helps to get our chemistry going. Cade always has my back just like I have his.”