That last time the Buckeyes had a returning starter at center was 2015, when Jacoby Boren was back for his second season as a starter.
Since then, Ohio State has started Pat Elflein in 2016, Billy Price in 2017, and Michael Jordan this past season. All three ended up being named All-Americans, with the first two being Rimington Trophy winners.
Under Urban Meyer, the Buckeye centers were never a question mark and always a strength. Even though Ohio State football is under new management now, the standards will remain the same.
With Jordan’s departure to the NFL, however, another new name will need to step in. That name is expected to be Josh Myers, who was Jordan’s backup this past season as a redshirt freshman.
Myers came to Ohio State as a blue chip tackle prospect, but was moved to center about a year ago because he had the athleticism and intelligence that the position requires. He had a solid spring battling with fifth-year senior Brady Taylor, but ultimately the job was won by Jordan in the summer.
That didn’t stop Myers from working and progressing, however.
“I think he’s ready right now,” current OSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said in the days prior to the Rose Bowl. “As a matter of fact, we practiced a little bit in this bowl prep with him at center and Mike back at left guard, so he’s already there.”
Had Jordan returned for his senior season, the plan was to move him back to guard where he played his first two seasons and then put Myers in at center.
What has he done to earn his coach’s confidence?
“Matured, man,” Studrawa said. “I’m telling you, his understanding of the offense, because it ain’t easy to snap a football in our offense and do the things that we ask him to do with a guy right there when you’ve never done that before. So it’s taken him some time. I’ve charted his snaps. I think he’s almost at 5,000 reps at the center position now, from practice in the spring, the summer, and camp and all of that stuff, so he’s ready.”
In fact, had the Buckeyes suffered an injury on the interior, Studrawa would not have had an issue turning to Myers.
“About halfway through the season, to be honest with you, I really thought he was ready then,” he said. “If something would have happened injury-wise earlier, we were prepared to make that move earlier.”
For Myers, he came to OSU from a run-heavy offense in high school, so there was plenty of learning to be done as a true freshman. As a redshirt freshman, however, he was moved to center and got better every day in the spring.
“I think that whole thing was just a learning experience,” Myers said of his first spring at center. “I was just trying to get used to the position, and as the weeks went on, I think I just got more and more confident and more and more comfortable and I think that made all of the difference.”
And now he believes he is ready. He understands everything asked of him and is confident in his ability to get the job done.
“Oh, confident,” he said. “Confident. I’ve put a tremendous amount of work into it and a tremendous amount of time and I feel like I’m as ready as I can be right now to go.”
Myers has picked up the position quicker than most players, which is one of the reasons why Studrawa thought he would make a good center in the first place.
“That’s different with every kid,” Studrawa said. “It’s different with every kid. Josh picked it up in a short amount of time. It’s probably about a year now since we moved him. He’s picked it up and is ready to go. It’s not something you can just do, it takes work.”
Now poised to take over the starting spot in 2019, Myers will assume a position that has only known All-Americans the last three years. That’s a tall order to follow, but based on his trajectory to this point, maybe he can make it four years in a row.
Or at the very least, could he eventually give the Buckeyes a returning starter at center for the first time in years?
“I don’t know,” Studrawa laughed. “That’s a damn good question. I hope. I think Josh may play three years in a row here.”