Buckeyes return top-tier offensive tackles, but middle of line unproven

Sports

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Part of Ohio State’s offensive line is the most proven, unrelenting unit in the country while the other part is relatively unknown. Four members of the Buckeyes’ front, along with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, spoke with the media Wednesday to discuss spring practice, protecting a new quarterback and replacing the likes of Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers.

The tackles who don’t allow tackles

Two of the most important returning starters are on OSU’s offensive line: Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere. The offensive tackle duo ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in lowest quarterback pressure percentage allowed by a player from a Power Five conference, per Pro Football Focus.

Munford had 224 pass block snaps in 2020, allowing only two quarterbacks pressures and zero sacks, per PFF. Against Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal, the pair had 34 pass blocking snaps and allowed zero sacks and zero quarterback pressures. Munford could have departed for the NFL and been selected in the middle rounds but decided to come back to Columbus to finish his degree.

Munford believes his draft stock will increase tremendously after his fourth season with the Buckeyes.

“I do believe I’ll be the best tackle to come out of next year’s draft,” Munford said. “I just believe if you keep working at it, you’re going to get there.”

Studrawa believes that sentiment.

“‘He’s got a chance. He’s got a chance to be the best tackle in the country,” Studrawa said. “That’s really what he’s chasing.”

Stuck in the middle with you?

Ohio State needs to replace Davis, an All-American, and Myers, a Rimington finalist.

Paris Johnson Jr. is the most interesting lineman at Ohio State this year. Johnson came to the Buckeyes as a five-star offensive tackle from Cincinnati and rotated in with Munford and Petit-Frere during his true freshman season. But this year, Johnson is making the transition to offensive guard to be a starter.

“When I first came here, I took a look at the depth chart and I sort of made some assumptions and I saw that by my sophomore year there would be that spot at tackle,” Johnson said. “But with everything’s that happened, I’m more than happy to play guard because Coach [Ryan] Day said he wants to have the best five who play.”

Ohio State still needs to fill two other spots, including center. Harry Miller filled in at center against Michigan State when Myers wasn’t available but started at guard during most of the season. Miller will miss spring camp because of an undisclosed injury, so the Buckeyes are getting to see what other players like Josh Fryar and Luke Wypler can do.

“I’ve been really impressed with the middle of our offensive line,” Petit-Frere said. “Josh Fryar has had a great spring ball, Matt Jones has been doing well, Luke [Wypler] has been having a great spring ball playing a little bit of center, and Paris, as well, has also had a great time playing. All of these guys have shown a lot of great skill and intuition about the position they’re playing.”

Matthew Jones rotated in at offensive guard in 2020 and started in the CFP semifinal and the national championship game against Alabama with Harry Miller out because of COVID-19. It’s anybody’s guess who will play center and the other guard position, but Miller will likely be in the starting five one way or another.

“I would assume he’s going to be one of the best five,” Studrawa said.

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