The Buckeyes went about replacing four starters on the offensive line this spring, but that turned into being without all five of last year’s starters as junior left tackle Thayer Munford missed camp with a back injury. Good work was had by the healthy linemen, and several stakes have been claimed for starting spots. The coaches like what they have, and will like it even more in the fall if Munford is healthy (which he is expected to be).
Ryan Day has said he generally wants to be at 16 scholarship offensive linemen every year, but this spring they were at just 11, and that includes Thayer Munford, as well as fifth-year senior Kevin Woidke who was a walk-on until this winter. Three freshmen will be arriving this summer, as will graduate transfer Jonah Jackson. The Buckeyes won’t quite be at 16 like Day wants, but they’ll be close enough. They are also helped by the versatility of their linemen.
“First of all, I don’t know how you replace those guys. I’m excited about how the young guys are working right now. Their development’s coming along really well. Josh Myers is having a heckuva spring, Nick Petit is having a heckuva spring, Wyatt Davis is having a heckuva spring, Bowen’s getting back into the swing of things. So I’m really pleased with that. Josh Alabi’s missed four practices in a row now with the flu, so I wanted him to get some work and he’s been out so I haven’t been able to get as good of a look. Gavin Cupp is coming along. So I like where we’re at right now. Replacing them? I don’t know. It’s hard. That’s a lot of experience.” — Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa on replacing four starters from last season.
When he wasn’t sick with the flu this spring, fifth-year senior Josh Alabi was at left tackle in place of Thayer Munford and he handled himself very well. He certainly gave Greg Studrawa and Ryan Day a lot to think about when it comes to putting their top five offensive linemen together. If Alabi can repeat his spring performance this fall, he could find himself promoted to the first team for the Buckeyes. That could also happen if Munford’s back issues continue to be a problem this season.
There are several linemen on this team who can play both tackle and guard, which gave Greg Studrawa some bit of luxury this spring despite the low overall numbers. Branden Bowen began the spring at right tackle, then played some left tackle while Josh Alabi was out, and then finished with the ones at left guard. Kevin Woidke and freshman Ryan Jacoby can also handle tackle and guard, though neither were asked to do as much as Bowen this spring.
It might be outrageous to say (it feels outrageous to type), but any of Ohio State’s five starters on the offensive line this season could see All-Big Ten accolades. Right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere has as much potential as any Buckeye lineman in years. Josh Myers is next in line at Center U, and nothing we saw or heard this spring has us doubting his potential. Wyatt Davis is a former 5-star lineman who was impressive last season as a redshirt freshman. We haven’t seen him yet, but Jonah Jackson was an Honorable Mention All-B1G selection at Rutgers last season.
Ohio State had two redshirt sophomores (RG Wyatt Davis, C Josh Myers) and a redshirt freshman (RT Nicholas Petit-Frere) on the front line this spring, and all three are expected to win starting jobs this fall. After losing four veteran starters from last season, Greg Studrawa and Ryan Day are looking forward to having some stability here for another two or three years.