Live At Five
One of the goals for Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa between now and the season opener at Minnesota is to find the Buckeyes’ five best offensive linemen. With the current crop of OSU offensive linemen being so talented and versatile, there is no shortage of options to choose from.
The Buckeyes are set at tackle with Thayer Munford and Nick Petit-Frere, and sophomore Paris Johnson seems set at right guard. Fourth-year junior Matthew Jones has been working at center and guard, as has redshirt freshman Luke Wypler. Fellow redshirt freshman Josh Fryar has earned high praise at guard as well. Then there’s junior Dawand Jones, who has played well when give the opportunity.
There’s also a third returning starter in Harry Miller, who is out this spring. Finding that top five may not be possible until the top five is completely healthy, and Studrawa certainly expects Miller in the starting lineup somewhere in the fall.
“There’s no question. I would assume he’s gonna be one of the best five,” Studrawa said. “But again, these young guys are getting the reps and getting the work. But when the preseason comes, Harry’s going right back into that mix, whether it be at center or whether it be a guard. Again, you’re right, we’re working on the best five and I would assume he’d be one of them, but we’ll see.”
The Elder Ohio Statesman
Ohio State signed three offensive linemen in the 2017 recruiting class. Those three — Wyatt Davis, Josh Myers, and Thayer Munford — were all in the starting lineup for the Buckeyes in 2019 and 2020. Davis and Myers both left early for the NFL last season, and Munford — who never redshirted — was expected to leave for the pros as well. Instead, he chose to return and utilize the free year that the NCAA granted to all athletes last year because of the pandemic.
Munford has cited his desire to graduate as his overriding reason for coming back, but a decision like that is always multi-layered. By returning, he’ll give NFL scouts another year of film. He’ll also give the Buckeyes a very important leader.
“First off he’s a mature young man who understands the value of the education and what that means for the rest of his life,” said head coach Ryan Day. “In life after football, he certainly is going to have a lot of options and opportunity after he’s done at Ohio State and the NFL. He’s very, very talented, he can do a lot of different things. And his leadership has really stepped up in the last few months. He understands well being from the state of Ohio what the Buckeyes mean in the state and what the brotherhood is all about here. And he’s kind of the elder statesman now in that O-line room. And I think he likes that role. I think he appreciates the guys that have come before and he wants to uphold that standard. I’ve been very, very impressed with him over the last few months.”
Toughness Is Not An Option
Just as the Buckeyes are replacing multi-year starters on the offensive line, they are doing the same thing at linebacker.
Four-year starting middle linebacker Tuf Borland is gone, as is three-year starter Pete Werner. Fellow seniors Baron Browning and Justin Hilliard also departed. All four now have their eyes on the NFL, but they don’t leave Ohio State high and dry.
The four of them continued the standard and set the tone for the linebackers behind them. One of those guys is senior Teradja Mitchell, who is putting the lessons he learned to good use this spring in leading the Buckeye ‘backers in the only way he knows how.
“We just have the expectation of trying to be the toughest and baddest unit on the team,” Mitchell said. “In the weight room, everywhere. Being a linebacker at Ohio State you have to compete. You’ve got to be a tough guy. Those guys, Tuf, Pete, Baron, Justin, that’s what they did every day. They came into work every day. Coming in, Tuf Borland taught me how to work. Justin Hilliard taught me how to work. I was just kind of under their wing and now that I’m the older guy, it just came natural to me because all I know is work.”
Judge For Yourself
The battle at linebacker is going to be fun to watch for Ohio State this year, but the competition at running back may be the most entertaining.
The Buckeyes have six scholarship running backs who are all talented enough to produce at OSU. Starter Master Teague returns for RBs coach Tony Alford, but there are five other guys in that room who saw that job eventually get wrestled away last year by Trey Sermon. They know it can be done, as does Teague, which is just going to ramp everything up at that spot over the next nine months.
One of those five is freshman TreVeyon Henderson, who continues to earn high praise from coaches, teammates, and insiders. It’s not difficult to see why after watching this clip.
Henderson may be a true freshman, but so far he is meeting and maybe even exceeding expectations. That may be because he has not been overwhelmed by the process so far.
“Overall, the transition has been great,” Henderson said. “The coaches are very good. I like them a lot. They’re what I expected and Ohio State is what I expected.”
Henderson enrolled at OSU early because he wanted to get a head start, but also because he wanted to compete.
“When it’s real, I’m a big competitor. I’m going to compete,” he said. “I’m going to give it my all. I don’t back down or anything. But when the pads come on that lets you know who’s real and who’s not.”
And when the action is live and the pads are flying, what kind of running back do the Buckeyes have in TreVeyon Henderson?
“I’d rather not talk about it,” he said. “I’d rather just show it and let you all decide after that.”