“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” ~ Hal Borland
I am not sure if the great state of Ohio got the memo. No offense, Mr. Borland, but as a lifelong Ohioan, I am quite confident that there have been many a year where we have gone straight from winter into summer. Fortunately for us, this coming Saturday and the weather we have had this week is of the excellent spring variety...
As Ohio State spring football continues on, I have decided to write a series of articles on a weekly basis to identify and rank the position groups, from least to most concerning, as they pertain to the upcoming 2023 season. Each week, I will point out questions I have about these position groups, and it is my hope that several, if not all, of these questions will be answered by the Ohio State Spring Game on April 15.
Offensive Line | Concern Ranking: 1st
- Scholarship Players Lost From The 2022 Squad: Paris Johnson, Jr., Dawand Jones, Luke Wypler
- Scholarship Players Returning From The 2022 Squad: Ben Christman, George Fitzpatrick, Josh Fryar, Avery Henry, Carson Hinzman, Donovan Jackson, Jakob James, Matthew Jones, Trey Leroux, Zen Michalski, Grant Toutant, Tegra Tshabola, Enokk Vimahi
- Freshmen Players Participating In 2023 Spring Football: Luke Montgomery, Joshua Padilla, Austin Siereveld, Miles Walker
Reason for my ranking: Ohio State lost 3/5 of their starting offensive line, which is substantial. Losing both tackles, and unexpectedly losing their starting center, will make the development of a cohesive offensive line paramount for Ohio State’s success in 2023.
Put it another way: for all of the hype around Ohio State’s offense — with the tremendous wide receivers, the highly-recruited quarterbacks, the intrigue of the tight ends on the roster, as well as the substantial depth at running back — if the offensive line cannot protect the quarterback on passing plays, or open up holes for the running backs, the Ohio State offense will go nowhere, no matter how much talent is on it.
1. Will Ohio State be looking for another tackle in the transfer portal?
Neither Zen Michalski nor Tegra Tshabola have seized the starting right tackle position through spring practice. Josh Fryar seems to be the starter at left tackle, but may be a better fit at right tackle than the opposite side. If Ohio State is able to land another tackle when the transfer portal re-opens on April 15, could the Buckeyes look to add another player or two? Could Josh Fryar be moved to the right side if a stronger left tackle candidate is available?
2. Will Ohio State be more run-oriented in 2023?
Any offensive lineman will tell you that they prefer run-blocking to pass-blocking. For an inexperienced offensive line that has strength across its interior with two returning starters at guard in Donovan Jackson and Matthew Jones, perhaps relying on the line to control the game with a strong running game in the first few games (at Indiana, Youngstown State, Western Kentucky) will help to build the unit’s confidence.
3. After the starting five, who are the next men up?
Last season, the aforementioned Josh Fryar, as well as Enokk Vimahi, were considered to be in the next group of offensive linemen that were called upon in the event of an injury. For example, Fryar came in after Matthew Jones was unable to continue playing against Michigan, plus Fryar was often used as a jumbo tight end in specific circumstances. Which player, or players, could have similar roles on the Ohio State offensive line in 2023?