If this list were “most underappreciated Buckeyes”, Andrew Norwell might be No. 1.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The left guard out of Cincinnati Anderson enters his senior season as one of the anchors on Ohio State’s experienced starting offensive line. He was named first-team all-Big Ten by the media last season, and helped pave the way for the 10th best rushing attack in the country.
Norwell, admittedly, is a man of few words. He lets his six-foot-six, 319 pound frame do the talking.
Despite his stature, Norwell has seemingly flown under the radar throughout his career. Even as a five-star high school prospect, Norwell’s commitment to the Buckeyes went unnoticed by many because he made it on signing day 2009 – a year before he could sign his letter of intent.
Though he is often overlooked, Norwell’s play is hard to ignore, and he comes in at No. 15 on our list.
What Makes Him Important
Another list in which Norwell would likely top – most consistent Buckeyes. Last season, Norwell played more offensive downs – 862 – than any other Buckeye. He was on the line for 98.8 percent of offensive snaps.
Norwell, along with returning starter Jack Mewhort, was named co-offensive lineman of the year by the Ohio State coaching staff last season. Each have 25 career starts at the position.
Those two, along with Marcus Hall (18 career starts) and Corey Linsley (12 career starts) form a core group of four linemen that paved the way for 37 rushing touchdowns last season, a 34-year team high.
Sophomore Taylor Decker will likely fill the fifth spot on the line at right tackle, but after those five, depth at the position gets a little dicey.
Coach Urban Meyer made it clear that he has concerns about the overall depth of the line, making the experienced guys even more important.
For a team that relies on the running game as much as the Buckeyes, the sheer number of snaps alone that Norwell played last season on the line makes him irreplaceable.
What Can Be Expected Of Him
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner can expect another solid season from Norwell in 2013. He started all 12 games for the Buckeyes last season, and assuming health, should bump that number up to 13 or even 14 this year.
Meyer said that he expects this line to be as good or better than any other in the Big Ten, and Norwell is a big part of that.
“It would be disappointing if our offensive line isn't one of the best in the Big Ten,” Meyer said. “I think there's some very good offensive lines in the Big Ten, and Ohio State should be right near the top with those other great lines.”
Meyer also said he expects strong leadership from Norwell and his linemates in 2013, calling the offensive line the “heart and soul of our team.”
“Jack Mewhort, Norwell, Hall and Corey Linsley and those guys are strong leaders, they're the voice, they're the face of our program,” Meyer said.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him
Without Norwell, or any of the other returning starters on the line for that matter, the Buckeyes would be in a tough spot.
After freshman Tim Gardner was kicked off the team earlier this summer, Ohio State was left with only eight reserve offensive lineman, and one of them, Antonio Underwood, is still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
The rest of the group, largely made up of freshmen and sophomores, lacks any real experience. Two of those guys, redshirt junior Darryl Baldwin and redshirt sophomore Chase Farris switched from the defensive side of the ball before the start of last season.
In 2012, none of Ohio State’s first-team offensive linemen missed a single start. Wary about his depth, Meyer is hoping for the same kind of luck in 2013.