The Ohio State offensive line is going to look a bit different than it did last year, especially on the interior as replacements for departed center Josh Myers and right guard Wyatt Davis must be found.
Redshirt freshman Luke Wypler is one of those players in that mix. Seen as the center of the future once current center of the future Harry Miller moves on, Wypler might have actually worked himself into being the center of the present this spring for the Buckeyes.
There was a time about midway through spring ball where it was pretty clear that Ohio State’s top five offensive linemen this season were going to be left tackle Thayer Munford, right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, right guard Paris Johnson, and then some combination of Harry Miller and Matt Jones at center and left guard.
Wypler never got the memo.
By the end of spring he was working with the ones at center, and while there is still more work that needs to be done, maybe no lineman made as much of the opportunity as Wypler.
And that was always his plan.
“I’ll tell you, he’s a tough, tough Jersey guy. First of all, I love that about him. He’s rugged,” said Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa this spring. “But second of all, I’ll tell you a story. The national championship game ends and those kids had a chance to go home. I’m home the next day and Luke calls me and he’s in the indoor [practice facility]. And he’s filming drills and sending them to me. It’s not 24 hours since [the game ended]. And he’s in the Woody doing drills, filming a drill and saying, ‘Coach, take a look at this and critique me, man, because I want to work on this.’ And that’s what I love. That kid stayed here the entire time. Most guys went home for two weeks, saw their families. This kid’s in here doing that every single day. That’s how important it is to him.”
Following a difficult season and a very difficult game, head coach Ryan Day wanted his players to go home and decompress. Wypler decompressed by thinking about the opportunity that was going to be in front of him this season and then working towards being ready when it came.
“Well, after the national championship game, obviously there was a really sour taste in everyone’s mouth. I mean, that was a tough loss and a tough pill to swallow,” Wypler explained. “And for me, I know what I’m up against this year. And with Josh Meyers leaving for the NFL draft and Wyatt Davis leaving for the NFL Draft, there’s two open jobs on the O-line and I wanted to make sure that I put myself in the best position to be in the best shape and be working on my tools and everything that I could personally do to be the best player I can be.”
His skills improved over the offseason. He and Studrawa watched drills throughout and critiqued and improved. Wypler listened to his coaching and applied it while working on his own. He took the time to refine his skills, but it’s his desire that has made such a positive impact on his current standing.
“A guy that cares that much and is that dedicated and has the tools — he’s got quickness, he’s really good now at snapping the ball and stepping. He’s got a rhythm now with the ability to do those things,” Studrawa said. “And he studies the game. He knows every position. He knows all those things. And the time and effort that he puts into it is something I love. A guy that works that hard, you’re gonna be successful period. And that’s one of the things I love about the kid.”
Working hard to achieve a goal is nothing new for Luke Wypler. It’s what brought him to Ohio State, after all, and he credits his parents for setting the example.
“I think a lot of that comes from kind of how I was raised personally,” he said. “My parents being hard workers and showing me what it was like to work hard and work for things you want. Things are never handed to you in life. Everything that you want you have to work for and strive hard to achieve. And for me, I try to own that mentality as best as I can, and every day put hard work in and stack days up against each other. And after that, you’ll get a nice payout. That’s kind of how I like to look at things.”
Based on what he did this spring, Wypler’s payout may end up being a role as the Buckeyes’ starting center this year