When Tampa offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere committed to Ohio State and signed with the Buckeyes last Wednesday, he gave the 2018 OSU recruiting class a very important piece that they had been lacking. Ohio State is thin at offensive tackle, and even though Tennessee tackle Max Wray signed in December, the Buckeyes still needed a second bookend to pair with him. In the end they may have landed the best offensive lineman in the country.
Player: Nicholas Petit-Frere (Berkeley Prep/Tampa, Florida)
Position: Offensive Tackle
Ranking: 247Sports Composite 5-Star, No. 1 Offensive Tackle, No. 7 Player Overall
Nicholas Petit-Frere is a 6-foot-6 272-pound offensive tackle who is still physically growing into the player that he will become. He comes to Ohio State as a consensus 5-star prospect and the No. 1 offensive tackle in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite. Now that he is signed, however, none of that means anything.
The first thing that you notice when watching Petit-Frere is that he is not your typical high school offensive lineman. He is not even your typical high school All-American offensive lineman. He runs tremendously well, and frequently uses that athleticism to pull from his left tackle spot all the way to the right side of the offensive line. Despite a relatively slim frame, he was the strongest offensive lineman at the Under Armour All-American Game last month.
Petit-Frere has the feet and balance to be an effective pass blocker, and the quickness and drive to open up running lanes for the ground game. While he was mostly at left tackle, he would also move to various spots on the line when the offense wanted to run behind him. Even with the defense knowing what was coming, he was still able to create lanes with power and leverage.
An easy comparison for Nicholas Petit-Frere is current Buckeye Isaiah Prince. Prince will be moving to left tackle this season after two seasons at right tackle. When Prince signed with Ohio State, he was listed at 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, so he also had room to grow into his frame. He is now listed at 6-foot-7 310 pounds and is still getting better.
The first time we got to see an OSU fall practice in Prince’s freshman season of 2015, his agility and quickness literally jumped off the turf at us. It wasn’t clear how good he was going to be, but it was clear that he had everything a future left tackle would need. The same can be said for Petit-Frere.
Another comparison could be made to a former Buckeye great, whose name will not be spoken here so as to not put too much pressure on a high school kid or to speak sacrilege. But just watch this clip of two plays and tell me who Petit-Frere reminds you of. Then watch the rest of his highlights below if you like and jump to even more conclusions.
There isn’t an offense in the nation that Nicholas Petit-Frere wouldn’t fit into. He’s pretty malleable in terms of fit, but once you put him into a system, he will eventually harden into part of the foundation. Urban Meyer wants a balanced offense, and to do that, you need balanced offensive linemen. Petit-Frere isn’t just a road grader or a pass-blocking wall. He has the ability to be whatever Ohio State needs him to be on any given play.
Ohio State will enter 2018 with the left tackle position solidified by Isaiah Prince and the right tackle position wide open, but being contested by the likes of Branden Bowen, Thayer Munford, and Josh Alabi. True freshman Max Wray is already on campus and will compete for the job as well. Can Nicholas Petit-Frere get into the mix when he arrives in the summer? Even if he can’t, the Buckeyes are going to have a brand new issue on their hands in 2019 after Prince leaves. Starting at tackle at Ohio State isn’t something that normally happens quickly. Isiah Prince and Taylor Decker were able to get it done as sophomores, but they are the exceptions to the rule. Petit-Frere could be as well, because from the looks of it, there aren’t a lot of rules that actually apply to him.
Nicholas Petit-Frere Highlights
[Nicholas Petit-Frere photo courtesy 247Sports.com]