Former Notre Dame TE Chase Hounshell headed to Ohio State

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Chase Hounshell didn’t choose Ohio State for one reason — or two, or three, or four.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end’s decision to play his sixth and final collegiate season away from Notre Dame wasn’t easy, but in his heart, it was justified.

He had overcome three shoulder surgeries and two lost seasons to reach this point. He converted from defensive line to tight end in spring 2015, discarding a lifetime’s worth of training in favor of a fresh start. He played in all 13 games on offense last season, catching one pass while serving primarily as a thankless in-line blocker.

The next step isn’t simply to contribute, but to start — to thrive. Hounshell believes he’s capable of taking that step, though in a different setting than South Bend.

“I fully believe that I can be a starting tight end and a great tight end," Hounshell told the Tribune last month. "That's why I want to invest in myself and go somewhere where I can make that happen.

“We have Durham (Smythe) coming back, who is just an all-around great tight end. We have Alizé Jones rising in the ranks, who is a phenomenal athlete. That's not to say that there wasn't a place for me, but it's not the role that I wanted. So that's why I had to look elsewhere."

Elsewhere, in Hounshell’s case, wound up being closer to home. The Kirtland, Ohio, native announced on Monday that he’ll transfer to Ohio State as a preferred walk-on. Why Ohio State, though?

Where should he begin?

For one thing, Hounshell originally committed to head coach Urban Meyer at Florida back in 2010, before flipping his commitment to Notre Dame following Meyer’s unexpected resignation. Five years later, the defensive end-turned-tight end committed to Meyer all over again.

“This past month, really, we’ve been in contact a lot,” Hounshell said of Meyer on Monday. “We’ve had some great conversations just about me becoming a Buckeye and his path and my path and how he was supposed to be my coach way back when anyway. This was kind of fate that it’s going to happen again.”

The coaching style that attracted Hounshell to Gainesville, Fla., now resides in Columbus.

“If there’s one thing that sets coach Meyer apart, it’s just how competitive he is," Hounshell said. "That’s how he runs his program. Everything in his program, no matter what it is, is a competition. There’s always a winner. There’s always a loser.

"I always think that competition breeds excellence, and that’s what coach Meyer does — he breeds excellence.”

The reunions hardly end with Meyer, though. Hounshell’s position coach at Ohio State will be offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, the same man Hounshell once verbally committed to at Notre Dame. Hounshell’s brother, Chad, moved to Columbus, Ohio, five months ago, and the two will share an apartment roughly five minutes from Ohio Stadium.

Next, consider that Hounshell grew up an Ohio State fan and was recruited by the Buckeyes. The program returns three scholarship tight ends with a combined two catches last season as well.

Last weekend, Hounshell attended Ohio State’s spring game with 100,189 others, helping to break the national spring game attendance record the program had previously set the year before.

Add it all together, and Hounshell had his answer.

“It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly,” he said. “The pieces to the puzzle couldn’t have fit any better.”

Hounshell, who graduated with a degree in management consulting at Notre Dame, will work towards a masters degree in sports coaching while simultaneously attempting to postpone that coaching career as long as possible. At Ohio State, Hounshell understands that he has been afforded a unique opportunity.

To begin again. To win the job. To extend the career many thought was over.

“I’m extremely confident,” Hounshell said. “I’m going in there with the mindset that I’m going to work to be the starting tight end there week one.”


Twitter: @mikevorel

Notre Dame tight end Chase Hounshell (18) will have reason to celebrate Saturday after coming back from three shoulder surgeries to reach Senior Day against Wake Forest. (SBT Photo/ BECKY MALEWITZ)