Buckeyes

Ohio State adds much-needed depth with grad transfer OL Jonah Jackson

Casey Cascaldo, The Lantern

After losing four of five starters on the offensive line from 2018, the Ohio State Buckeyes were in need of not only talent but plenty of depth up front as well. That became even more clear when 2019 four-star offensive lineman Doug Nester flipped his commitment from the scarlet and gray to Virginia Tech on National Signing Day. With no longer being able to add a high school prospect that could help in 2019, the Buckeyes were forced to lean on the transfer portal. Again.

Since the moment Urban Meyer took over the Buckeyes, he has seemingly had a dominant offensive line, even it meant having to retool up front almost every offseason. Head coach Ryan Day has been tasked with doing the same. That job got a little easier on Monday when Rutgers graduate transfer offensive lineman Jonah Jackson — the fifth-ranked player on the transfer market — announced that he will play his fifth and final collegiate season at Ohio State this fall, the Buckeyes’ top offensive line target on the transfer market.

“My goal is to get the ball rolling in the weight room with [strength coach Mickey] Marotti and get into the playbook with Coach Stud and the rest of the offensive staff,” he told Lettermen Row’s Austin Ward. “Even before this process started, we were made very familiar with Ohio State and their tradition of winning and their production of athletes both on and off the field.

“Both schools [in the recruitment] were awesome, but I just felt Ohio State was the perfect fit for myself.”

In his first season leading the Buckeyes, Day’s lone returning starter up front is left tackle Thayer Munford. While it will be nice to have Justin Fields’ blind side in good hands, making sure the other four spots along the offensive line are solid as well is key. Jackson’s addition makes that solution easier, even if he doesn’t end up getting a starting nod at one of the other four spots.

With that said, it’s obvious that Jackson didn’t decide to come to Columbus for one season just to be big man backup. He will have every opportunity to earn a starting nod this summer and during fall camp. His success during his four years at Rutgers shouldn’t go unnoticed either.

Rutgers has had some well-documented struggles on the football field over the years, there’s no doubt about that. But even with all those struggles as a team, Jackson has done quite well. A team captain this past fall, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman earned honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2018. He was the anchor of an offensive line that allowed the second-fewest sacks n the Big Ten in 2018 while starting 11 games for the Scarlet Knights. Jackson continued to be one of his team’s bright spots in a program that has been filled with plenty of dull, bad, and even ugly spots over the years.

As the starting right guard for Rutgers last season, Jackson will likely either compete to be Ohio State’s starting right guard or center this fall. Either way, it’s been obvious over the years that offensive line coach Greg Studrawa loves offensive linemen that can play multiple positions up front. In fact, the Buckeyes have moved a guard with starting experience (Pat Elflein, Billy Price, and Michael Jordan) to the center position in each of the last three seasons.

Although he won’t arrive on campus and be able to prove the type of player he is and can be until after Memorial Day, the big man is ready for the competition and challenge. It’s up to him to prove that he’s good enough to be a starter for the Buckeyes.

“Ohio State just felt like the perfect fit,” Jackson told Lettermen Row’s Austin Ward. “I enjoyed my time tremendously on my short visit there and bonded with players really well. Also, the relationship I’ve been able to establish with the coaches is awesome, and I trust in the plan that they have set forth.

“It’s crazy I had the opportunity. It’s been a great time, but it’s time to get to work.”

Jackson’s transfer to Ohio State may not be as coveted or recognized as much as quarterback Justin Fields, the first player the Buckeyes were able to nab from the transfer portal, but his addition was not only needed but could prove to have more dividends this fall. With his experience and leadership, the veteran brings plenty of help to an Ohio State offensive front that was in major need of another addition this offseason.

The Buckeyes may have to retool up front and will have four new starters on the offensive line, but with Jackson now in the fold, they have the talent and depth to be just as good as a group as they have been in previous years. Ohio State will have plenty of new names up front, but if they can continue to develop and gel together ahead of next fall, Buckeye Nation shouldn’t notice any drastic changes compared to years past, at least in terms of the offensive line dominating the opposition.