COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio State offensive lineman Dawand Jones always imagined he’d play the sport he loved in college — but it wasn’t football. The Indianapolis native grew up a basketball fanatic, but when bigger offers came for football, he knew it would be his future.
“I told coaches on [college] visits … they wanted me to say I love football, but I couldn’t tell them that because I would be lying, and at the time, I didn’t love football as a freshman,” Jones said. “[Football] grew on me and just became my life, I would say.”
Similarly, Jones has grown on the coaching staff, particularly offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, who believes the 360-pound junior is one of the best linemen in the country.
“When he sets in pass [protection], there’s nobody going around him and they’re not going through him,” Studrawa said. ‘We’ve got the best pass rushers in America that we go against every day … and Dawand right now has been dominant as a pass protector on that edge.”
His dominance on the gridiron has helped him gain a new appreciation — and love — for the sport that will likely make him a lot of money in the very near future.
“I can actually say I love football now,” Jones said. “This is my life. I have no choice but to go hard. I feel like if I don’t go hard, where am I going to be at? … Football is my life. Basketball I kind of had to throw out the window.”
Jones, who came to OSU as a guard, is competing to be a starter on Ohio State’s offensive line. Despite losing two interior linemen to the NFL, Studrawa has been experimenting with some changes, including moving All-American Thayer Munford to guard and switching Jones from guard to tackle.
Jones lost 15-20 pounds in the offseason, which he says has helped him transition.
“I feel like I get to move better. Me playing tackle, I get to play in space. You have to be lighter and be light on your feet going against these 250-260 [pound] guys, which are almost literally a hundred pounds below me, so you have no choice but to be light.”
Switching Jones to tackle and moving Munford inside isn’t a permeant fixture, but it’s also not the only change Studrawa has considered. He’s also put Paris Johnson Jr., one of the top-rated tackles in the country in 2020, at guard during parts of spring and fall camp.