From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about players to watch this upcoming season. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”Player to Watch” articles here.
The 2006 movie “The Blind Side” is one of those feel-good movies that I characterize as the type that I occasionally find as I am channel surfing that I will stop and watch. Is it one of my all-time favorites? No. But I do enjoy the overall story of the movie, and how Sandra Bullock provides a brief but important narrative at the beginning of the movie about the importance of having a quality left tackle to protect the blind side of the quarterback.
Ohio State has had several offensive tackles in recent years move onto the NFL. First-round selections include Taylor Decker by Detroit in 2016, and Paris Johnson Jr. by Arizona in the recent 2023 NFL Draft. Other Ohio State offensive tackles include Reid Fragel (7th round by Cincinnati, 2013), Jack Mewhort (2nd round by Indianapolis, 2014), Jamarco Jones (5th round by Seattle, 2018), Isaiah Prince (6th round by Miami, 2019), Nicholas Petit-Frere (3rd round by Tennessee, 2022), Thayer Munford (7th round by Las Vegas, 2022), and Dawand Jones (4th round by Cleveland, 2023).
It is against that backdrop that I chose to focus on Josh Fryar as a Player To Watch for the upcoming 2023 season. Fryar enrolled at Ohio State in 2020, and has been the type of utility player who has been valuable in various positions on the offensive line. For example, Fryar was called upon to play right guard last season against Michigan, after starter Matthew Jones was injured.
While the offensive line is not as glamorous a position group as quarterback, running back, or wide receiver in the eyes of many football fans, the importance of the position group cannot be understated. Without a strong offensive line, the quarterback will not have time to throw to the wide receivers, and the running backs cannot run for many yards if the offensive line does not open up holes versus the opposing defense.
Josh Fryar is the projected starting left tackle on the 2023 offensive line. I am using the term “projected”, as Fryar has not yet officially won the position. Fryar played at left tackle throughout spring practice.
Another key consideration regarding Ohio State’s offensive line, most notably at the tackle positions, is the recent addition of transfer Josh Simmons into the mix. Simmons made the move from San Diego State to Columbus after Ohio State concluded spring practice. Simmons played right tackle for the Aztecs and could be the starter there for the Buckeyes, provided he outplays his competition in Tegra Tshabola and Zen Michalski.
Back to Josh Fryar. When I wrote up above about how Fryar is the projected starter at left tackle, I cannot help but wonder if Ohio State offensive line coach Justin Frye is going to mix and match players at the offensive tackle positions, trying to see which combination of players works best. Could Josh Simmons get the left tackle spot, while Josh Fryar is moved over to the right side?
No matter which side of the offensive line, I do not doubt that Josh Fryar is one of those players who will be a starter for Ohio State when the season begins at Indiana on Sept. 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET. If Fryar is named the starting left tackle, he will certainly be my Player To Watch, as he will be tasked with the important job of protecting the Ohio State quarterback’s blind side.