COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State wasn’t even close to being on any top 10 or 25 list of teams returning the most experience along the offensive line entering this season. Buckeye offensive linemen had just 22 combined starts, a number that jumped to 38 with the arrival of Jonah Jackson, a 16-game starter the past two seasons at Rutgers before graduating and transferring to Ohio State this summer.
The top teams in the nation in terms of returning starters along the offensive line had cumulative starts totaling in the hundreds. Oregon far and away led with 153 starts along the line with five other teams boasting more than 100: Iowa State (114), Michigan State (113), Boise State (107), Auburn (104) and Marshall (103).
The low numbers weren’t just reflected in starts, but also in bodies. The Buckeyes had to replace four starters along the line, three of whom were multi-year starters and are now in the NFL: Michael Jordan is starting for the Cincinnati Bengals and Isaiah Prince and Demetrius Knox are with the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.
Fourth-year Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa knows a thing or two about offensive linemen because he’s coached a few in a career that includes 21 years as an o-line coach and an All-American in three consecutive years at Ohio State.
“Stud” worked his players through the 15 practices this spring and 25 more this fall before selecting a unit that, so far, has been very good. How good? All five starters have earned team “champion” honors for outstanding play in each of the first two games of the season. The line features:
- LT Thayer Munford (from Cincinnati), a true junior who was a 12-game starter as a sophomore in 2017;
- LG Jonah Jackson (Media, Pa.), the 16-game Rutgers transfer who has honorable mention all-Big Ten in 2018;
- C Josh Myers (Miamisburg, Ohio), a third-year sophomore who had played 57 snaps on offense last season at an Ohio State position that has produced back-to-back Rimington Trophy winners in Pat Elflein (2016) and Billy Price (2017) and three consecutive All-Americans;
- RG Wyatt Davis (Bellflower, Calif.), another third-year sophomore who started twice last year – against Northwestern in the Big Ten title game and vs. Washington in the Rose Bowl – after Knox was injured; and
- RT Brandon Bowen (Draper, Utah), a fifth-year senior who started the first six games of the 2017 season but then was injured, missed all of 2018 and has worked his way back long and hard to be a major part of the action once again.
These five lineman have a collective per game grade of 82 percent with 37 combined knockdown blocks. Jackson leads with 12 knockdowns, including nine in the opener vs. Florida Atlantic.
Not a bad start for the new unit.
Behind the starters is a corps of five more who worked hard this fall and, in some cases, came close to earning the starting nod. There’s fifth-year senior LT Joshua Alabi, junior RG Gavin Cupp, who had a terrific spring and fall, and three freshmen: red-shirts at LG, Matthew Jones, and RT, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and true freshman C Harry Miller.
That’s depth. And that’s depth for the long haul.