Ohio State enters the 2020 season with a ton of question marks. Ryan Day and his staff are tasked with replacing almost their entire secondary, with only one returning starter among the group. The defensive line will need to replace Chase Young as well as its whole rotating cast of defensive tackles. The wide receiver room is deep, but unproven outside the top two guys. The running back job is between a transfer coming off a torn ACL and the original projected starter who is coming off a torn achilles.
The only position group with no worries about them whatsoever — outside of obviously quarterback with Justin Fields at the helm — is offensive line. Arguably the most important unit on any team, the Buckeyes’ O-line has a chance to be incredibly special this upcoming season. With three returning starters and a trio of former five-star talents ready to fill in at the two vacant spots, the strength of Ohio State’s ‘slobs’, as they've been affectionately called in the past, are a big reason why the team should flourish in 2020 despite all the unknowns.
Let’s take a look at the guys projected to start at each of the five spots come August.
Left Tackle: Thayer Munford
(Senior, 6-foot-6, 315 lbs)
For Munford, he will be entering his third season as Ohio State’s starting left tackle. Likely the most experienced offensive lineman on the roster, the senior has started 26 games the last two seasons, and has played in 38 of the team’s 42 games over his three years in Columbus. The Cincinnati native was named a Second Team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media in 2019.
Left Guard: Harry Miller
(Sophomore, 6-foot-4, 315 lbs)
A center by trade, Miller will slide over and fill the spot vacated by Jonah Jackson, who is now a member of the Detroit Lions. The Buckeye coaches absolutely raved about Miller’s development as a true freshman, and as a result he was able to crack the two-deep as the team’s backup center last season. He played in 13 of 14 games in 2019, and was in on 181 total snaps for the year — good for third-most among first-year guys. Miller was the No. 2 center and No. 30 player in the country in his recruiting class.
Center: Josh Myers
(Redshirt Junior, 6-foot-5, 312 lbs)
Myers burst onto the scene in his first year as a starter in 2019, and is largely expected to be one of the nation’s best centers in 2020. Now with a shot at the Rimington Trophy and All-American honors, Myers was the anchor for an Ohio State offensive line last season that helped J.K. Dobbins run for over 2,000 yards. He played over 900 snaps during the campaign, and was named a “champion” by the Buckeye coaching staff nine times over the course of the year. Myers was a Second Team All-Big Ten choice by the media.
Right Guard: Wyatt Davis
(Redshirt Junior, 6-foot-4, 315 lbs)
Perhaps the most talented player in the entire position group, Davis could have easily declared for the NFL Draft and been a first round draft pick after his brilliant season for Ohio State in 2019, but instead chose to return for another shot at a national title. A consensus All-American last year, Davis now has a chance to join Orlando Pace and Chris Ward as the only offensive lineman in Ohio State history with multiple All-American honors. Davis started all 14 games for the Buckeyes last season, and was also named First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media.
Right Tackle: Nicholas Petit-Frere OR Paris Johnson Jr.
(Redshirt Sophomore, 6-foot-5, 305 lbs / Freshman, 6-foot-6, 305 lbs)
While I do think this job will be won by Petit-Frere because of his experience — especially given the lack of a spring camp — I can’t fully count out the five-star freshman just yet. Petit-Frere played in all 14 games for Ohio State in 2019 as the backup to Branden Bowen at right tackle, and has been an OSU Scholar Athlete each of the past two years. Johnson was a consensus five-star prospect in the 2020 class, ranked as the No. 1 OT and No. 9 player overall in the cycle. The Buckeyes are clearly in good hands either way they go, as Petit-Frere himself was also a former five-star guy, and I'll give him the slight edge right now.
While the five guys in line to start are superbly talented, this year’s offensive line also features tremendous depth.
If we are giving Petit-Frere the right tackle job, then Johnson would likely be the backup at left tackle where he has more experience and comfort. The team also has Max Wray, a redshirt sophomore tackle and former four-star recruit, who could play in an emergency situation at either spot on the outside.
The interior of the offensive line is where Ohio State is the strongest from top to bottom. While the trio of Miller, Myers and Davis could be one of the best interiors in the country, the guys behind them aren’t bad themselves. Matthew Jones was a former top-100 recruit, and played backup to Jackson at guard for most of last season as a redshirt freshman. Enokk Vimahi was the No. 7 OG in the 2019 class, and played in three games last year before redshirting. Obviously Miller could also move over to center if the team’s in a bind, but Luke Wypler — the No. 2 C in the 2020 class — is waiting in the wings as well.
At the other tackle spot, a fan favorite by the name of Dawand Jones will be the likely backup. At 6-foot-8, 359 pounds, Jones is an absolutely hulking figure on the football field. Looked at as more of a project player, the freshman actually found himself a decent amount of playing time in year one as he appeared in 10 games totaling 90 offensive snaps. One of the most interesting players in the unit, it will be fun to watch as the big man continues to progress.
While Ohio State’s running back situation is a big question mark, a great offensive line will be able to hide that. Honestly, I think just about any back in the country could put up big numbers if the Buckeyes’ front plays how it is expected to in 2020. This group has a real chance to be something special, and is filled to the brim with talent top to bottom. The program has had some great individual offensive lineman in its history, but I think overall this unit has a chance to be its best ever across the board.