In recent years, the Buckeyes have been able to rely on experienced players at offensive tackle. In fact, they had so many talented tackles that they had to move a few to guard, including Thayer Munford and Paris Johnson Jr., who are both playing tackle in the NFL.
This year, they have veteran guards, but the two players at tackle will be new.
“To make this thing go, the o-line has to be on point,” guard Donovan Jackson said. “We’re just trying to the best of our abilities to make sure that we’re all on the same page.”
Offensive line coach Justin Frye said they’re evaluating every snap of every player to make the best decision possible.
During a news conference Monday, coach Ryan Day said left tackle is a competition between San Diego State transfer Josh Simmons and Tegra Tshabola. Simmons played right tackle for the Aztecs but switched to left tackle during fall camp. Simmons said he’s never played left tackle in high school or college.
“It’s a pretty big [adjustment]. You’re going against the best d-linemen in the world in college football. You gotta really lock in,” Simmons said. “This is like an NFL factory, so I understand the opportunity here was to get developed by [line coach Justin] Frye and the best coaching staff in the country, and I was going to take that.”
Right tackle is a competition between true freshman Luke Montgomery and senior Josh Fryar, who was competing at left tackle in the spring. He was moved to right tackle just last week.
“It was [Frye’s] idea to move, and I said, ‘OK, sounds good,'” Fryar said. “I always envisioned me moving. I think I’m a plug-and-play guy. I can play all five [offensive line positions] … and I want no drop off when I’m playing at a different position.
Frye said during his 21-year coaching career, he’s only had one true freshman start the season opener on the offensive line. Montgomery is hoping to be the second.
“He’s a freshman who’s bought in and is working really hard,” Frye said. “They’ve got to be the five best that can help us go win the game. If they’re ready to do that and ready to play, then you have to feel comfortable with that.”
The competition for center is also ongoing between Viktor Cutler Jr., who transferred from Louisiana Monroe, and sophomore Carson Hinzman.
“Our offensive line now, in terms of camp-wise, is exceeding expectations even that we would’ve had last year,” Hinzman said. “I think the work we’ve put in and the guys we’ve been able to develop in such a short period of time, I think we’re going to be extremely solid.”
Cutler said he was dealing with off-field distractions when he first transferred to Ohio State and knows he can play better than he did during spring practices.
“I just knew in my head I could do better. I’m my biggest critic in a way. I just know I can always do better even if it’s the slightest thing,” Cutler said. “Me, Carson and Jakob [James], it’s great. We’re great friends off the field and when we put them pads on, we’re still cool but we just know we’re competing against each other but it’s healthy. It’s nothing toxic. We’re just trying to make each other better.”