He didn’t particularly want to do it, but Michael Jordan moved from guard to center before the 2018 season.
Four months later, he was named a first-team all-American by Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports. Not bad for a guy who had never played the position before.
“I can’t say enough what he did this year to step into that role, somebody his size, too, and how well he did and making First All-American awards,” said Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day. “You can’t say enough about his unselfishness.”
It wasn’t an easy transition. Jordan said that the mechanics of snapping took a while to pick up.
“It was pretty hard at first, but then once you kind of got through the season, started feeling it more so,” Jordan said.
Jordan said he snapped the ball “between 60 and 100” times every day over the summer to prepare. But the snap wasn’t the only big adjustment.
It turns out sliding over a few feet changes a lot.
“It’s a little less space between you and the defensive lineman so you have to move a lot quicker,” Jordan said.
He had the benefit of following a pair of Rimington Award winners, and said he reached out to both Pat Elflein and Billy Price about their experiences at the position.
“In the beginning of the season I talked to Billy and Pat all the time,” Jordan said. “You just got to get in the groove of things and trust yourself. One thing at center, you got to trust yourself.”
He still isn’t sure whether he will return to Ohio State for this senior season. But if he does, he knew exactly where he wanted to play.
“Most definitely play guard,” he said immediately.
That’s a logical position choice for a guy named Michael Jordan, and Day said it looked likely to happen.
“That will be the plan. And Josh (Myers) would be a guy that we look at at center,” Day said. “Josh has really improved this year. That would be a nice move for us to move Josh to center and then Mike over to guard.”
But before that, Jordan has to decide whether he’ll be back for the 2019 season. He submitted his name to the NFL Draft Advisory Board, but said he had not heard their grade yet.
Jordan says he anticipates playing guard in the NFL, and if he does decide to come back, he wants to play there to showcase himself for teams.
“I got two years at guard, so I think anything I do coming back another year is just to build upon that, start where I left off, continue to build,” he said. “It will only add value to me as a player.”
No matter where he’s playing next season, Jordan said he learned a lot this fall that he can carry forward in the future.
“Playing at center definitely helps at guard or any position you play on the offensive line. One, you have to know everyone’s assignments. I guess if I were to play guard next year, it would be more my body reacting to things instead of me thinking about things,” he said.
“It’s another skill set I have in my pocket I can carry with me to the next level. You only carry seven positions in the NFL. If they need a center, they need a guard, any position, I’ll be that guy that can play those positions.”