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Ohio State’s Brady Taylor is ready to be the next great Buckeye center

After Pat Elflein and Billy Price took home the Rimington Trophy the past two years, fifth-year senior Brady Taylor is ready to add to the string of success

NCAA Football: Army at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“My goal is to be the best center in the nation. Being behind them the last two years and getting groomed, it’s definitely a goal of mine, and I think I can accomplish it.”

-Ohio State center Brady Taylor via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

The “them” Ohio State center Brady Taylor is speaking of is Pat Elflein and Billy Price. The fifth-year senior will enter the 2018 season with big shoes to fill after Elflein and Price both took home the Rimington Trophy as the best center in the country in back-to-back seasons. Halfway through spring practices, Taylor has the confidence that he will be able to hold his own and bring the prestigious position trophy back to Columbus for the third straight season.

Even though Taylor isn’t officially the starting center for the Buckeyes yet, he looks to be on the right track to being the quarterback of the offensive line. Last year Price and Taylor spent a lot of time together, not only at practice, but they were also roommates. Taylor impressed Price so much, that Price felt like Taylor was the “Next Man Up”.

Along with the teachings of Price, Taylor was also able to watch Elflein at center during the 2016 season, and learn from the now-anchor of the Minnesota Vikings’ offense. Taylor knows there are doubters who think there will be a drop in production from Elflein and Price if he becomes Ohio State’s starting center, but he is using the doubts as motivation. If Taylor is able to be even half as good as Elflein and Price have been over the past two seasons, Ohio State will be just fine at the center position.

“When you lose, you learn. It’s an opportunity to get better. You’re not going to go out there and be perfect. Every opportunity is an opportunity to learn. I think those lessons have taught me that when things get hard, just keep going, keep fighting. It taught me how to work, how to get through things. It made me who I am.”

-Ohio State offensive lineman Isaiah Prince via Ryan McGlade, Scout

Ohio State might not have done a lot of losing on the football field the last few years, but one of the losses by the Buckeyes in 2016 has helped offensive tackle Isaiah Prince grow. The Buckeyes gave up six sacks to Penn State in a 24-21 overtime loss to the Nittany Lions in 2016, and many of those sacks were blamed on Prince, who was a sophomore at the time. For many, the criticism that Prince received would destroy their confidence, but the Buckeye used his subpar performance as fuel to improve.

After a strong season in 2017 on the right side of the line, Prince is being moved to left tackle for his senior season after the graduation of Jamarco Jones. With his new position on the line, Prince will be tasked with protecting the quarterback’s blind side. While Prince will head into the 2018 season as one of the best offensive linemen in the Big Ten, he wouldn’t be where he is today if he didn’t respond positively to the mistakes he made in his first year as starter, and used those errors to improve.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a dramatic change in strategy. Ohio State has been so successful in kickoff coverage in the past. I think it’s more just getting the kickers comfortable in the scheme. As a freshman, that’s a big adjustment [for Blake Haubeil in 2017] coming into this really tough scheme. But I don’t think there will be any changes to our strategy.”

-Ohio State long snapper Liam McCullough via Ryan Ginn, Land of 10

The NCAA is exploring a rule change that could drastically change kickoffs, but until the rule change is approved, Ohio State isn’t changing their kickoff strategy. On April 13, the NCAA will discuss a rule change that would turn fair catches inside the 10-yard line on kickoffs into touchbacks.

Last year, Ohio State struggled at times on kickoff coverage, but for the most part the Buckeyes have had strong kick coverage over the past five years. If the proposed rule change is made official, the Buckeye coaching staff is looking at it as a weapon they are having taken away.

Even if the rule change is made official, the Buckeyes might continue with the same strategy they have used over the years. How Ohio State approaches kickoffs is going to depend on how confident they are with the accuracy of Haubeil, and the coverage by the kickoff team. For now, it is business as usual for the Buckeyes on kickoffs.

With Ohio State men’s hockey in the midst of their best season in 20 years, the honors keep coming for the Buckeyes. Yesterday it was announced that head coach Steve Rohlik is one of nine finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award, which is given annually to the CCM/AHCA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Coach of the Year.

After a year in which they were projected to finish fifth in conference, Ohio State defied expectations to not only finish second in the Big Ten, but also take Notre Dame, who will also be in the Frozen Four, to overtime in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game. The Buckeyes used a strong mix of offense, where they ranked in the top 10 in scoring offense and on the power play, along with a stout defense, which saw them finish first in penalty killing and third in scoring defense, to earn their spot in the Frozen Four.

Rohlik’s Buckeye squad has earned a spot in the Frozen Four for the first time since 1998, where they’ll take on Minnesota-Duluth next Thursday in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Rohlik is the only one of the nine nominees to win the league Coach of the Year award, and place his team in the Frozen Four. The winner of the award will be announced on Wednesday, a day before the Frozen Four semifinals take place.