Football

Nicholas Petit-Frere Striving To Live Up To Thayer Munford’s Standard At Left Tackle

Ohio State returned the best pair of offensive tackles in college football this year — and then they decided that wasn’t good enough.

Thayer Munford was an All-Big Ten left tackle last season and a Preseason All-American this season. Nicholas Petit-Frere, on the other side at right tackle, was a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection last year and by some accounts the highest-graded pass protector in college football. Early on in fall camp, however, Munford volunteered to move to left guard so that the Buckeyes could get another tackle — Dawand Jones — in the starting lineup.

It was a great example of selflessness and a team-first attitude that didn’t go unnoticed by Munford’s teammates.

Now Petit-Frere is starting at Munford’s old left tackle spot and once again showing everybody why he was the No. 1 offensive line prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. He’s also showing the NFL exactly what he’s capable of doing on either side of the line.

“I’m happy about the move,” Petit-Frere said this week. “Because first and foremost, to help the team. I think we became a better team when I was switched from right to left tackle. I think that opened up more possibilities with the offensive line, and it kind of changed our offense a little bit because we had a different type of way that maybe we thought about our offensive line and how certain guys are better at certain things than others. So that’s the first thing I would say about that.

“But then also, with the switch to left tackle, I was happy that I got a chance to really show my versatility being able to play right and left. That’s something that a lot of people try to look for at the next level and things like that to see if you’re versatile and you can play both sides. Hopefully I’ve proven that I can, and I’m going to keep improving every single week. I’m not perfect yet. But every single week I’m going to keep going out to practice trying to improve and trying to get better.”

Petit-Frere says he’s not perfect, but it’s been very difficult to tell from the outside. He has made the transition to left tackle look seamless.

“It was very hard,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie, during camp when I first started, I mean, everyone has growing pains whenever they switch to new positions, but you know you always try to overthink things or you always want to do better than you can even imagine. I came into the mindset of like, ‘look, I gotta do this. I gotta switch to this position. I gotta be almost seamless and flawless. And I can’t have any setbacks.’

“But there were setbacks in camp. There was an adjustment period that I had to take into account. I had to learn. It was kind of like when I was going back to my freshman and sophomore year where there was still growing pains. I still had to learn. I still had to adjust. Only thing I could say is I think I adjusted quicker. I think I felt more comfortable as I went through fall camp and then I went through the first and second game. I appreciate you thinking that it’s been looking easy. Offensive line is not easy at all.”

Nicholas Petit-Frere was very comfortable — and very good — at right tackle. He created a standard that is going to be difficult for others to live up to. But when asked if he is trying to be better than the standard he has set at right tackle or be better than the standard set by Thayer Munford at left tackle, he eventually deferred to his old friend and new position.

“What I can tell you is that the standard that Thayer Munford left at left tackle is probably going to be looked upon from Ohio State history is probably one of the best standards at left tackle, in my opinion,” Petit-Frere said. “Not only did he play that position well in terms of just on the field, and you just see how he played, but also the leadership aspect of it that maybe not a lot of people see behind the scenes or some of the things that he did as a leader in terms of bringing up younger guys.

“So if I had to pick one, I would pick Thayer Munford’s [standard] and trying to be better than that. But not only in just terms of being on the field better, but also just how he was as a leader and how he was able to bring along guys with him.”