Stop me if you’ve heard this one… a guy walks into the transfer portal…
Since its inception a few months ago, the transfer portal has been more like a revolving door at Ohio State.
Players are coming and going at such a rate that the scorecard printed last week is already out of date.
But it hasn’t been all bad news on that front for the Buckeyes. They have landed two of the best transfers in the nation in sophomore quarterback Justin Fields from Georgia and graduate senior offensive lineman Jonah Jackson from Rutgers.
Fields transferred to Ohio State immediately this winter and took part in spring practice. You may have read about it.
Jackson, however, is finishing up his degree at Rutgers and will arrive at Ohio State before fall camp gets underway.
For a team that has lost four starters on the offensive line, Jackson’s arrival will be key. Named a captain last year, and with starting experience at both center and guard, and Honorable Mention All-Big Ten recognition to boot, he could step right into a starting role this season.
Jackson has essentially been telecommuting with the Ohio State coaches and strength staff while in New Jersey. He watched practices and attended meetings via an iPad. He may not have been on campus, but he was in attendance.
Knowing the terminology and the playbook before he arrives on campus will be an advantage. He will be able to hit the ground running, which is exactly what you want from graduate transfers.
There’s plenty more to like as well, according to offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
“The fact that he’s really an intelligent, tough football player. That was the first thing I liked about him,” Studrawa said. “Then I watched him in our game block our guys last year and he did a helluva job. And I said, ‘Wow, that kid…’
“He was interested in us and we reached out to him and here’s an intelligent kid that’s really tough. Academic All-Big Ten. Honorable Mention All-Big Ten as a player. And to add a guy, we’re losing all that experience, to have a guy that now has three years of experience coming in, it was a huge bonus.”
Ohio State needs to replace their entire interior starting lineup, and Jackson is talented enough to play either of the two guard spots or center.
He opened the 2017 season as the starter at center, and made five starts between guard and center, but missed a large chunk of the season due to injury. Last year, he started 11 games at right guard.
It’s always good to have an offensive lineman who can play multiple positions, but Studrawa sees Jackson beginning his Buckeye career at guard.
“Yes, I do. Because of what Josh [Myers] is doing [at center],” he said. “And we haven’t even talked about [redshirt freshman center] Matt Jones. Matt Jones made some really, really, good strides early. He made some tremendous strides to be in that center position. So now, [incoming freshman] Harry [Miller] and Jonah can play center and guard. They know it, they learn it when they get in here and they’ll hit the ground running and be ready to go.”