Spring’s Unanswered Questions for the Ohio State Offensive Line

Greg Studrawa Ohio State Football Buckeyes Offensive Line Coach

Every year following Ohio State spring football we recap what happened position by position.

Who stepped up, who stepped back, what got fixed, and what didn’t?

With 12 of the 15 spring practices cancelled due to the pandemic, however, essentially nothing happened, nothing got fixed, nobody stepped up, and no questions got answered.

So since we can’t talk about which questions got answered, we will instead discuss which questions still remain.

Position by position.

We have already discussed the quarterbacks, the specialists, the cornerbacks, the receivers, the defensive ends, the running backs, the linebackers, the defensive tackles, and now we move on to the offensive line.

What do the Buckeyes have in Paris Johnson?

Paris Johnson was the No. 1 offensive tackle recruit in the 2020 class and he was on campus this winter as an early enrollee. He enrolled early with an eye on battling for the starting right tackle job, but with only three practices occurring before things got shut down, that goal got put on ice.

While offensive line coach Greg Studrawa got a little bit of a look at Johnson in those three practices, it is unfair to expect a freshman offensive lineman to be up to speed in his first week. It’s even more unfair to expect that when competing against Ohio State defensive linemen. That experience, however, would have helped greatly and made Johnson much more ready for the season.

So much of what was lost this spring is the iron sharpening iron aspect of football. Johnson could have gained some very valuable experience facing off against the likes of Zach Harrison, Baron Browning, Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, and Javontae Jean-Baptiste.

Who is the left guard?

With the exception of right tackle, where most expect junior Nicholas Petit-Frere to take over, the biggest question mark on the Ohio State offensive line is the open left guard spot.

With Jonah Jackson off to the NFL next week, the Buckeyes will turn to a number of candidates. One of them would have been fifth-year senior Gavin Cupp, but he was out for the spring with an injury anyway, so he may have gotten a bit of a reprieve. Redshirt sophomore Matthew Jones would have been another possibility. He was moved from center last year because the staff really liked true freshman Harry Miller.

Redshirt freshmen Enokk Vimahi and Ryan Jacoby are two options as well. Jacoby saw no action last year, while Vimahi got a little bit of a taste.

The smartest money was seemingly on sophomore Harry Miller, who was spoken of last year like few other true freshmen — and that was well before he ever played in a single game. He is an advanced player, which means there is a pretty good chance that he is one of the top five offensive linemen on the team. If he is, then he starts. The only problem is that we don’t know because spring didn’t get a chance to tell us.

Is Nicholas Petit-Frere ready for a starting role?

Nicholas Petit-Frere came to Ohio State in 2018 as the No. 1 offensive tackle in that year’s recruiting cycle. He redshirted as a true freshman and then competed for a starting spot at right tackle last year.

He eventually finished second to Branden Bowen, but still saw action in 13 games last season.

As a third-year player, this spring was going to be his opportunity to prove to his coaches that he was ready. He got one start last year and showed that he still had work to do. Some of that work should have taken place this spring. In fact, the finishing touches should have started to show.

The next time we see Nicholas Petit-Frere, the questions that were there a year ago will remain. That doesn’t mean he won’t answer them, it just means he didn’t get a chance to do so this spring.