With the Ohio State Buckeyes set to kick off their 2018 football season in less than 24 hours, WFNY will have a bit of a preview for the scarlet and gray before they begin their season this fall. Although the Buckeyes lost plenty of talent either due to graduation or the NFL Draft, it doesn’t mean that they will have to rebuild, they will instead reload, much like they have in the past. In fact, the word rebuild most likely doesn’t even exist in dictionaries across Columbus. You could argue that this year’s team is somehow better than last year’s in some ways. It truly shows just how deep this roster is, thanks to the recruiting efforts by the coaching staff, development of the players, and just how talented these kids are while they try and mesh together to potentially win a national championship at season’s end.
Tonight, we take a look at Ohio State’s offensive line, which could be one of the tallest in the country and will have plenty on their plate this fall, especially with a pass-first quarterback, unlike in years past.
When you think of a good, big, and solid offensive line that an offense can continually lean on, many college football fans may always look to the Big Ten, particularly the Wisconsin Badgers. They’re not only consistently one of the biggest, but always one of the best. It’s one of the many reasons why the Badgers are always among the top teams in the conference and lean on their running attack to open up their passing attack year in and year out. Another dominant offensive line through the years has been the front that the Alabama Crimson Tide has.
The Ohio State Buckeyes may have just lost left tackle and Jamarco Jones and do-it-all lineman Billy Price to the NFL this offseason, but their new-look offensive line still has a chance to be quite good this fall. If nothing else, they are going to be big.
Let’s compare them to the Badgers’ and Alabama Crimson Tide’s offensive front in 2018:
Average size: 6-foot-6, 309.5 pounds
Average size: 6-foot-5.6, 316 pounds
Average size: 6-foot-4.8, 309.6 pounds
The Buckeyes’ front may not be the heaviest of the three, but they sure are the tallest, barely beating out the Badgers by almost a half-inch. That says a lot, considering the type of linemen Wisconsin continuously deploys from top to bottom.
Losing Jones and Price is significant, but Ohio State has the experience, size, and talent to make up for their losses. Not only are they one of the biggest lines in the country, but they return four lettermen and have a combined 68 starts throughout their respected careers so far. Let’s take a look at each starting offensive lineman for the Buckeyes this season:
Thayer Munford and Joshua Alabi
Whether they will split time or not remains to be seen, but due to the fact that Munford has been injured at times through fall camp, acting head coach Ryan Day has yet to decide on who will be his starting left tackle this fall. A sophomore, Munford was expected to start prior to his injury. The heaviest player on Ohio State’s starting offensive front, he played in 12 of 14 games in 2017, none of which he started. He performed quite well in spot duty though. Following Jones’ exit, Munford impressed coaches throughout the spring and was penciled in as the starting left tackle even before fall camp. All of this though was prior to him getting injured.
Like Munford, Alabi hasn’t started a game but has 14 appearances under his belt. Originally recruited as a defensive lineman, the junior is entering his second season on the offensive side. His most significant playing time came in 2017 against Michigan when Alabi filled in after Jones came out with an injury for a few plays.
Now, it seems as though the two will have to battle for the starting spot. There may even be a rotation at times as well.
Appearing in all 14 games during his career (all of which were in 2017 and none were starts), the redshirt senior will start his first game Saturday afternoon, just like the guy to his left. He has made plenty of improvements recently, especially in the spring, while competing with redshirt freshman Wyatt Davis for the starting job.
A former JUCO transfer, Pridgeon was expected to just provide depth up front, but broke through during the spring to earn the starting nod.
Jordan has big shoes to fill, to say the least. Following in the footsteps of Pat Elflein and Billy Price, both of which are now starting in the NFL, the junior made the move from guard to center this offseason, just like his two former teammates.
Having started every game since the moment he stepped foot in Columbus, Jordan was expected to start at left guard this fall, just like he has the previous two years, but during the short, couple times that media was allowed at fall practice, he was seen playing center. Day confirmed that Jordan will be the starting center shortly thereafter.
Now, the 6-foot-7 lineman is set to not only be the center, but if he can follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and become a first-round NFL Draft pick either in 2019 or 2020 as well. Of 32 starting centers in the NFL, three hail from Ohio State. Not bad, eh?
After taking over for an injured Brandon Bowen and starting eight games in 2017, Knox continued to keep the starting right guard spot on lock this offseason. A redshirt senior, he has played in 31 games in his career, which is the third-most among all of Ohio State’s offensive linemen.
Two years ago, he was remembered for being the one offensive lineman that collected plenty of penalties. Now, Prince is not only one of seven team captains, but the senior is set to start at right tackle after previously starting in 27 games throughout his time as a Buckeye.
After he was initially moved to left tackle to start spring practice, Prince was moved back to his original position at right tackle during fall camp.
With a first-year starter under center, a running back duo that may be one of the best in the country, and an experienced group of wide receivers on offense, to go along with Ohio State’s size up front, the sky seems to be the limit for Ohio State’s offense this fall. If the linemen can allow Dwayne Haskins Jr. plenty of time in the pocket and open up wholes for J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber to run through, opposing defenses better watch out. The Buckeyes’ offense will look much different than in year’s past, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be fun. In fact, it may be one that Buckeye Nation falls in love with, and it may all start up front in terms of the offense’s potential in 2018.