There are two open offensive line jobs for the Buckeyes heading into the 2020 season and plenty of options for both spots.
Ohio State is looking for a new left guard and a new right tackle. Given the competitors at both spots, the more intriguing battle looks to be at right tackle.
It is the right tackle spot where the Buckeyes have an interesting range of candidates.
There are three players vying to start and the contrast between them is stark.
Third-year sophomore Nicholas Petit-Frere was the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2018 class and the No. 7 player in the class overall. True freshman Paris Johnson was also the No. 1 offensive tackle in his 2020 recruiting class and the No. 9 player overall. Then there is candidate number three — true sophomore Dawand Jones. Jones ranked No. 1,043 nationally and was the No. 86 offensive tackle in the 2018 recruiting class.
Jones was a surprise last season, seeing action in a number of games after being an expected redshirt. Jones didn’t play as much as Petit-Frere, who saw significant snaps in a number of games last year.
Both players saw more action than the true freshman Johnson, who has only taken part in three spring practices.
Despite the limited viewing window this spring, Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa is pleased with where things stand at right tackle.
“I’ll tell you, the first three days of spring practice were unbelievable to see those guys go out there and compete,” he said. “And to answer your question, that’s what it’s gonna take. It’s gonna take someone that wants to go out there and grab that position by the ‘you know what’ and say that they want it.”
Petite-Frere saw about 150 more snaps than Jones did last year, so Studrawa had a better idea of what to expect from him. He had less of an idea of what to expect from Jones and Johnson.
Neither player disappointed.
“I would’ve liked to have seen Dawand, and even Nick — Nick’s played a little bit for us. He’s been in some games, so he’s got a little more experience, but what I saw out of Dawand and Paris, two young guys in three days of spring practice, I couldn’t believe how advanced, how far Dawand has come and how advanced and mature Paris is for a freshman,” Studrawa said.
Now while all three are home working on their own, they are each learning the playbook as best as they can. They are hitting whatever blocking sleds they can find and preparing for a return to campus and to the battle that all three of them have been thinking about since well before the quarantine hit.
Will arguably the best Ohio high school offensive line prospect since Orlando Pace be able to follow in Pace’s footsteps and be a day-one starter on the offensive line? Or will Nicholas Petit-Frere finally realize his 5-star expectations and become the pass blocker that so many thought he’d be by now. Or will it be the 6-foot-8 and 359-pound former high school basketball star Dawand Jones (pictured above)?
What it is going to take for one of those three to emerge and win the job?
“It’s gonna take those guys right now, who’s gonna buy in? Who’s gonna go grab that spot and say that they want it?” Studrawa said. “Because I believe all three of them are capable, so it’s gonna be fun to see them work. They’re working hard now, they’re getting better now, they’re studying film now.
“I know they’re not getting the reps, but it’s time to slow down and get film with them and study the playbook with them, learn things with them. They’re working on their individual technique on their own and then when we get back together it’s gonna be a full-court press and to go fight for the job. And it’s gonna be exciting. I can tell you that.”