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10 most important Ohio State Buckeyes in 2017: No. 2 Isaiah Prince

Keeping your quarterback upright is always important.

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Playstation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Clemson Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When looking at the 2017 depth chart compared to the 2016 depth chart, there are noticeable holes, but the team is in a much better place now than it was entering the 2016 season after a mass exodus of NFL departures and graduation. Using key departures, spotlighting players at important positions, leadership qualities, and recognizing the depth at each position, we came up with the 10 most important players on the team. They may not be the most heralded players, or even the best players, but they will be vital to this team’s on-field success.

No. 2: Isaiah Prince

Position: Right tackle

2016 stats: Per Pro Football Focus, Isaiah Prince allowed 45 total pressures

As mentioned in our No. 3 article, the offensive line was the clear weak-link of the 2016 Ohio State Buckeyes. For a team that recruits at the level that Ohio State does, it’s borderline inexcusable for the offensive line to allow the quarterback to get pressured, hit and sacked as many times as they allowed in 2016 — and it’s safe to say that Isaiah Prince was the most inconsistent of the bunch.

The guys at Pro Football Focus had this to say about the right tackle, “RT Isaiah Prince has been slightly better in terms of run blocking, but has given up 45 total pressures, ranking him dead last in the country in pass blocking efficiency out of 174 tackles who have played at least 50 percent of their teams’ snaps.”

There were many reasons why the Buckeyes faltered against Penn State last season, but the offensive line was the key factor in their lone, regular season loss. Out of J.T. Barrett’s 51 dropbacks, I charted a whopping 26 pressures, seven hits and a six sacks allowed. Price himself accounted for 19 (!) pressures, four hits and three sacks allowed. He clearly was not up to “slob” standard as a true sophomore.

There were numerous plays, drives and games throughout the season where Prince was the clear weak-link on the offensive line. However, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the right tackle for the 2017 season.

“His technique is perfect almost every time,” said defensive end Jalyn Holmes. “You can tell that he worked on that. He took it personal in the offseason. He had a great winter. He had a great offseason workouts and you can tell that he’s growing up and he’s working on his craft. He’s becoming a pro.”

New offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson went on to say that, “we need to put him in better situations.” Which will most certainly include screens, draws and quick hitters that were oddly left out of the playbook last season — even with the offensive line struggling to pass protect. Maybe they’ll even help him with speed rushers by keeping in a tight end or running back to his side.

With a great offseason under his belt, a new play caller at the helm, plus four of the five offensive linemen returning, it’s safe to say that Isaiah Prince will have a much better season in 2017. If Prince and the offensive line can do their jobs up to the expected Ohio State standard, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be a top offense in the country.

The size and talent is there for Prince, and now it’s time to put it all together.