Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa doesn’t know yet exactly what his starting offensive line is going to be this year. The good news for him is that he may have more legitimate options than any OSU offensive line coach in decades. The Buckeyes went about replacing All-Big Ten left tackle Jamarco Jones and All-American center Billy Price this spring. Things aren’t quite settled there yet, but neither Studrawa or Urban Meyer seem as concerned as they were at the start of camp.
75 Thayer Munford, So
58 Joshua Alabi, rJr
73 Michael Jordan, Jr
66 Malcolm Pridgeon, rSr
61 Gavin Cupp, rSo
79 Brady Taylor, rSr OR
71 Josh Myers, rFr
54 Matthew Jones, Fr
78 Demetrius Knox, rSr
53 Wyatt Davis, rFr
59 Isaiah Prince, Sr
76 Branden Bowen, rJr
74 Max Wray, Fr
It was understood that senior Isaiah Prince would move from right tackle — where he has started for the previous two seasons — to left tackle this spring. That’s where he was when we got to see him early in camp. When the spring game rolled around, however, Prince was back to his old right tackle spot and sophomore Thayer Munford was now at left tackle. Asked about the switch after camp, Greg Studrawa said that it looks like Munford will stay at left tackle this year.
Things can change, but for now that’s where they stand. The reason? Munford feels a bit more comfortable at left tackle and really took to it about midway through camp. When it comes to the offensive line, if they are going to rely on a young tackle this year, they want him to be as comfortable as possible. Plus, Studrawa knows that Prince can be comfortable in either spot, so that’s why the switch was made.
““You really want to be able to rotate guys if you can. Now, one of the other things about offensive line play as you say that is you have to get a cohesive unit working together, too. I don’t want to just pull guys out for the sake of pulling them out. But the ability to have depth when if a guy gets a break, if a guy gets dinged – which happens just about every game. So to put a guy in there and know you’re not going to drop off a level of play, that’s outstanding, that’s the confidence.” — Greg Studrawa
Michael Jordan is entering his third year as a starting left guard for the Buckeyes. He was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection last season and could be even more than that this season. Unfortunately for him, he was out this spring recovering from shoulder surgery in Janaury. He’ll be fine this season, but his absence allowed for the blossoming of fifth-year senior Malcolm Pridgeon. Pridgeon may not start a game for the Buckeyes this year, but he gives them some of that depth that has Studrawa excited about the possibilities.
Before the spring, we expected redshirt freshman Josh Myers to compete for a backup spot at guard. On the first day of spring football, however, he was snapping the ball and running with the twos at center. There was a significant learning curve there. While he was getting his footing, fifth-year senior Brady Taylor seemed to grab a pretty sturdy handle on the position. Over the final two weeks of camp, however, Myers closed well and now the two will compete all through the summer and likely into fall camp. If Myers continues his trajectory, the former 5-star offensive tackle could have a significant impact on the Buckeyes this year, and for the foreseeable future after that as well.
This is the third season as a starter for Isaiah Prince, who took a fairly relaxed path through spring football. As a member of the 2,000-rep club, Meyer and Studrawa didn’t want to put too much of a workload on him this spring. This also allowed backups Joshua Alabi and true freshman Max Wray to get some good work. Isaiah Prince’s football story could have a tremendous ending after a dramatic beginning in 2016. If that’s not worth promoting, then I don’t know what is. Some will say questions still remain, however. Namely, if they should believe Greg Studrawa when he says he moved Prince back to right tackle because of Munford. Or could it have been because it was Prince who wasn’t comfortable?
Greg Studrawa wants an offensive line that can rotate players in and out. The Ohio State offensive line is no different from other positions in the desire to bring in rested players, but the cohesion can be difficult to create when you start mixing and matching. Even if the cohesion isn’t there from the backups, the depth when needed will be. And not only will that depth be talented, but it will be flexible. Fourth-year junior Branden Bowen has played both guard and tackle. Joshua Alabi is a tackle, but also took some snaps at center the spring. Isaiah Prince can go right or left at a coach’s request. The sheer number of offensive linemen makes this a deep group, but the versatility of so many of them to play multiple positions makes them even deeper.