Isaiah Prince is beginning his third season as a starter for the Buckeyes. A starter as a sophomore at right tackle, Prince had his ups and downs in 2016. Last season as a junior, he was named Third-Team All-B1G for his play. The improvement was readily apparent, and another jump is expected this season.
There is just one slight difference, however. Prince has moved from the right tackle spot he has known for the last three years to left tackle. It’s a natural transition and not at all unusual.
But it’s still going to be a brand new situation for Prince.
“I played right tackle all throughout my high school career, all throughout my college career,” he said. “It was time for a switch. The team asks me to play left tackle and I do it. I’d do anything for this program.”
When some people think of Isaiah Prince, they think of his struggles against Penn State during his sophomore season. That’s fine, but he is now a much different player than he was back then. Just as Taylor Decker became a much different player than he was when he had his difficulties against Buffalo as a sophomore. Offensive linemen grow and improve, and that’s exactly what Prince has done.
“I feel like I’m a great run blocker,” he said. “If you ask me to move somebody off the ball I will move them. If you ask me to go out there on third down and be on an island during game day, I’d go out there and do it. My leadership, I’ll bring energy to the field, I’ll bring energy to the guys. Anything you ask me to do, I’ll do it, to the best of my ability.”
It was after the Oklahoma game last season that the Ohio State offensive line decided to reexamine their efforts. They grabbed a mirror and took a look at what they were seeing. They weren’t alone. That game provided an opportunity to reflect for everyone.
It changed things for the offensive line, and it definitely changed things for Prince.
“I think that made us refocused, we grew as a unit, the leaders in that room,” he said. “That changed our mindset and just made me approach game days differently and made me approach everything differently. I think that was a turning point.”
Prince has grown each season as a Buckeye, and if he hadn’t taken another step between last year and now, his coaches would be asking somebody else to handle left tackle. The position is too important to put into the hands of someone they cannot trust.
There is no longer any doubt, however. Prince has no doubt that he is ready, and his coaches and teammates have that same confidence.
“Just being around Isaiah, the improvements that he’s made and how much he’s matured over the last couple of years is really unbelievable,” said fifth-year center Brady Taylor. “Me and him really bonded when he came in until now, so I’ve kind of seen it first hand, watching him grow, and he’s got a lot of respect from the people in the room.
“We really look up to him. Even though he’s younger than I am, he still comes up to me and helps me all the time. Whether it be hands, or set, and of course I respect his opinion because he’s become a really good player and a really good leader for us. His work ethic I think he totally changed. I remember he just came out and he’s one of our hardest workers. Always getting extra work and everything and he’ll definitely have a great season this year.”
I’m less concerned this year about the offensive line than I was last year. BUT, it still remains the second most troublesome unit on the team. Second only to linebacker (predominantly SAM and WILL). The offensive line has a boatload of talent that can play ball. The issue is Greg Studrawa molding them into a single cohesive unit. Yeah, I know but but but we have had All Americans and guys drafted. OF COURSE, individuals, not units that play as a single body capable of dominating defenses. The talent is there (and has been) for the Buckeye offensive line to be a major concern for defensive coordinators. It’s been more like they have only had to focus their attention on an individual or 2 to create a lot of trouble for the Buckeye offense. Up to this point Greg hasn’t been able to built anything close to what Ed Warinner did. Want to win a National Title? Make the offensive line a contender rather than a collection of bodies with just a standout or 2.
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