Atlanta, Georgia (WCMH) — Ohio State offensive tackle Dawand Jones is a self-proclaimed sports history buff. He lit up at Ohio State’s Peach Bowl media day Thursday when a comparison was drawn between he and Buckeye legend Orlando Pace.
It’s a conversation he’s had before with fellow tackle Paris Johnson Jr.
“[Paris and I] talked about it yesterday. We could really be like Orlando Pace and Korey Stringer I feel like honestly,” Jones said about the Buckeye tackles who were both first round draft picks in the 1990s.
Pace was the No. 1 overall pick in 1997 and went on to a 13-year Hall of Fame career.
Meanwhile, Stringer was the No. 24 overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1995 NFL Draft. He was named a Pro Bowler in 2000 but died tragically of organ failure due to heat stroke in Vikings training camp on Aug. 1, 2001.
28 years later, the law firm of Jones and Johnson continue to uphold the standard set by Pace and Stringer with Ohio State leading the country in fewest quarterback pressures allowed.
“[Paris] didn’t really know about [Pace and Stringer] but I did of course just cause I know a lot of sports history,” Jones said. “I feel like we built a big bond from him playing guard to now playing tackle. We just take pieces of each other’s work and we put in our own craft.”
Jones’ massive frame has elements of both Pace and Stringer. At 6’8″ and 360 pounds, he’s an inch taller than Pace and 20 pounds heavier than Stringer when both players were drafted.
Johnson is the smaller player of the two but has the higher draft projection as a top 15 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Georgia defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is among those calling Johnson a first-round pick.
“One, I want to say it’s kind of cool for a coach from another school to say that,” Johnson said. “I try not to think about the next level because I’ve seen a lot of players think about it while
they’re in college and it starts to affect their play, affects their mindset, affects their mentality.”
Johnson and Jones both had to develop a new mentality coming from high school to Ohio State. The Indianapolis native Jones preferred basketball to football but fell in love with the latter after coming to Columbus.
The Cincinnati native Johnson on the other hand was the No. 1 ranked offensive tackle in the class of 2020, but had to make the switch to guard to get on the field last year.
“I tried to tell myself I am a guard. I’m not a tackle. I’m a guard,” he said. “If I try to
say ‘I really should be a tackle’ I’m not going to be all in . . . If you think about both, your energy is going to be half and half.”
Ohio State and coach Ryan Day have been the benefactors of the tackle duo, which hope to rise to the occasion against Georgia’s vaunted defense led by Jalen Carter.