Before camp got going for Ohio State, Urban Meyer said the competition at right guard featured seven possible names. Now, nearly two weeks into camp, those seven names have only been whittled down to six.
Redshirt juniors Malcolm Pridgeon and Demetrius Knox, redshirt sophomores Matt Burrell and Branden Bowen, and true freshmen Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers are all in the mix.
The two freshmen will have the longest road to go, however. Davis was a summer enrollee, so he’s still got a lot to learn. And even though Myers came in early, he has had to grow quite a bit as a pass blocker. While the two rookies could absolutely still win the starting job, right now it is the four veterans who have the best odds.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in there working,” offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said. “We’re a long way from deciding who it’s going to be. But the competition so far has been excellent. There’s a lot of guys. Malcolm is playing well. Matt Burrell is playing well. Knox is in there playing well. Bowen is really playing well. He may end up in that spot. So right now, we’re just trying to develop fundamental toughness. Get the fundamentals and things in and then start working them. But right now, it’s a wide-open competition.”
The seventh name at the outset was freshman Thayer Munford, who impressed in summer workouts. In fact, Munford has since impressed so much at right tackle that it has allowed current backup right tackle Branden Bowen to get a long look at right guard. Bowen is currently building some momentum. He is not alone, however.
Matt Burrell left the spring with the lead, but fourth-year players Malcolm Pridgeon and Demetrius Knox may possibly see this fall camp as their last shot at a starting job, so they have perhaps closed the gap by raising their respective games.
All of this leads to routine shifts and rotations at right guard as guys move up and down. The pecking order changes frequently.
“Not every day, but you could say that because certain guys have good days, certain guys have bad days,” Studrawa said. “That competition is wonderful because you don’t have to say anything to them except ‘Go.’”
Center Billy Price has already expressed his confidence in whoever wins the job, particularly Burrell, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are a number talented options who are now mature enough to handle the responsibilities ahead of them.
It is going to take a while to finally get this competition down to one winner. It may even stretch into the season. As long as the competitors play like starters, Studrawa isn’t afraid to play more than one guy in that spot.
“You’d like to (find one guy), but if it ends up being two guys, you’d love to be able to play two guys there,” he said. “We’ll see how that folds out. We’ve got a lot of time right now and the best thing they’re doing is giving effort, straining, and fighting for it.
“And you know, there’s nothing greater than competition. When there’s an open job, guys fly around for it. And now we’ve got great competition, so we’ll find out and see how it shakes out.”