Football is a game that is won in the trenches. Speaking specifically about the offensive and defensive lines, more times than not a program’s success is defined by how those two units perform.
In regards to the offensive line, the Buckeyes have faired pretty well with their players overall, but the standard in Columbus every year is national title or bust, so of course there’s room for improvement. Development has been there, but again, if the goal is to be the best in the country, then the position group as a whole can always take the next step in performance. That’s not just on the players, but the coaches too.
That said, at the conclusion of the 2021 season, Ryan Day made a change in position coach for the offensive line unit. Moving on from the Greg Studrawa era and bringing in Justin Frye, the decision points toward the notion that there was a need for a new voice in the room and for overall improvement.
Coach Stud wasn’t a detriment to the team, as he did develop some great players, but if there’s one draw back from his tenure it was his recruiting resume. Sure, that can be a bit strange to some considering how much success Ohio State’s offense has had the last several years, but that points to how high the expectations are in Columbus for the Buckeyes. While there were some great wins on the recruiting trail, it’s no secret that coach Stud missed out on several top national players — especially at the tackle spot.
The addition of coach Frye was a bit of a youth movement. Certainly his age for one, but the way he teaches his players also gives way to a new method of doing things. His desire for tenacity is a welcomed presence, but the other major aspect the Buckeyes are hopeful for is his work on the recruiting trail as a younger coach who can relate to players, build relationships, lock down the state of Ohio, and also land the top national players that Ohio State has desired for its recruiting classes.
Coming from UCLA, Frye has proven to be a developer of talent and a schemer, but the recruiting piece will have to come along. UCLA wasn’t exactly in the mix for some of the top national players, to no fault of Frye’s. Still, his addition has given a jumpstart to this offensive line that last year saw a group of four tackles, with only two of those playing in their natural spots. Right or wrong, Frye’s top priority is landing elite talent and then having it pave the way for more offensive success.
All the above leads to the one major question: With this being the first recruiting class under coach Frye, are the Buckeyes in the position to see the desired upgrades on the offensive line? There’s a ton that goes into it, but before we see an on-field product, recruiting is going to be the first telling sign as to how Ohio State is doing in this post-Studrawa era.
2023 offensive line recruiting
Studrawa held his own on the recruiting trail, but he left some to be desired. Doing a good enough job isn’t going to cut it at Ohio State when the rest of the position coaches are bringing in top national products every cycle. In-state kids from Ohio will always be a priority, and Studrawa did a pretty good job there in his own right. In this current 2023 class though, the Buckeyes are in an interesting position when it comes to offensive line hauls. The two players currently committed at those positions are both in-state products, leaving you wondering if this is version 2.0 of not being in the mix for top nationally-ranked players.
First and foremost, this is only Frye’s first year at the helm of the position. It’s only fair that he gets his feet under him before any criticism is tossed for the national scene. On the other hand, it can be looked at as pretty convenient that when there’s a coaching change at a critical spot there’s in-state guys who are Ohio State caliber players and should be easy layups for Frye to land, regardless of how new to the program he is.
Fortunately, the Buckeyes have done just that. Thanks to commitments from the top player in Ohio and the fourth-best offensive tackle in the country, Luke Montgomery, as well as the third-best player in Ohio and the No. 6 interior lineman, Joshua Padilla, the offensive line recruiting hasn’t had to go too far to add talent. Both top 150 players nationally, this is a major feat for Frye to come in and get things rolling with his efforts out on the trail.
In-state triple threat
Additionally, on Wednesday the Buckeyes will be potentially adding yet another player along the offensive line who hails from Ohio in the 2023 class, when Lakota East product Austin Siereveld announces his commitment. The Buckeyes being the betting favorite here, Siereveld has a final three of Ohio State, Alabama, and Notre Dame.
The seventh-best player in Ohio for 2023, Austin is also considered as the No. 20 interior lineman in the class. At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Siereveld is a monster of an interior guy and would be a big addition for the Buckeyes who need to continue stockpiling depth, especially as following this 2022 season we could see some major pieces leave for the NFL Draft.
In all, it is interesting that Ohio State is depending on adding another in-state kid. Ryan Day and his staff make it a priority of course to build a wall around Ohio and keep their best players home, but they also want nationally ranked players, as that many times is what sets the Buckeyes apart from the rest of the Big Ten. Is another Ohio kid the answer here, or a sign of missing out nationally?
Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class is beyond far from being a finished product. In terms of the offensive line, the Buckeyes have a ton of work still to do on the trail. Having two in-state players is great right now considering the caliber of that duo, and if they are able to in fact land Siereveld on Wednesday, it’s another guy the Buckeyes wanted.
That’s the key word there. Having a guy they want in-state is just a bonus. Yes, they’ll still look to recruit nationally in this current cycle. Whether they’re able to land those top national ranked guys is still yet to be seen, but if in the worst case scenario Frye is landing only in-state players in his first year, he’s got three talented guys that have offer lists that prove they were desired commodities by the other top programs around the country.
The Buckeyes are still in solid shape. Landing three in-state offensive linemen in this class is not an issue at all, and is actually a priority for this staff in addition to still working to land other big names outside state borders as well.