COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State has the tall task of replacing two offensive tackles in 2023 with both Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones getting ready for the NFL Draft.
Senior Josh Fryar has been with the Buckeyes for three years and looks to be a lock at left tackle with plenty of game experience. But right tackle is up in the air.
“Right tackle, it’s still too hard to tell,” coach Ryan Day said. “[Tuesday] was our first day in pads, so it’s gonna be hard to really give you a lot of evaluation. I think, coming off this week, we’ll have a better feel for it.”
The competition is between redshirt sophomore Zen Michalski and redshirt freshman Tegra Tshabola—the No. 1 rated offensive lineman in Ohio for the class of 2021.
The Lakota West product and Democratic Republic of Congo native grew up with Johnson Jr. and the two played for the West Chester Outlaws a few years apart. Just like Johnson, Tshabola is moving from guard to tackle and said the most important lesson he learned from his mentor is staying calm.
“In high school, I used to just want to grab you and kill somebody,” Tshabola said seriously. “Paris last year, and even today, he’s like, ‘I know you want to go out there and wreck everything, just destroy everything, but you’ve got to stay calm. If you go out there and try to do that, these guys are going to take it from you.'”
The responsibility of earning a starting spot on Ohio State’s storied offensive line is not one Tshabola takes lightly. The proof is having his black stripe removed last week.
“They chose me because they saw the potential that I had, the potential that I didn’t even see at the time,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got a duty to this team, to this unit, to the quarterback, to anybody behind me that I’ve got to go make that play.”
The potential to start, and the expectation of being the highest-rated lineman in Ohio two years ago, can be overwhelming. But Tshabola has been grounded by offensive line coach Justin Frye.
“Frye came up to me one time and I was hard on myself and down and all of that and he was like, ‘How long have you been here?’ and I told him ‘a year’ and he said, ‘Wrong. You haven’t even been here a full year yet and look at the big jump you’ve made since you got here.'”
Only time will tell if Tshabola can make an even bigger jump the rest of this spring to earn OSU’s starting right tackle spot.