The Ohio State football team learned they need a more physical offensive line after their blowout loss to Alabama in the National Championship. We look at some what-ifs on the offensive line for this season.
Ryan Day has made it clear he wants the team’s five best offensive linemen on the field. This is nothing new for the Buckeyes; Urban Meyer wanted the same thing. Achieving that sometimes necessitates moving around guys to different positions. In order to do that you need versatile linemen, which is something the Ohio State football team has in spades.
This offensive line group for the Buckeyes is also a very talented one. When you have a talented and versatile group it creates competition, and that can lead to some interesting “what-if” scenarios.
What if…Dawand Jones and Paris Johnson, Jr. wage an epic battle at right guard, there is little separation between them, and it is obvious they are two of the five best linemen? One of these two would move to left guard, which would mean Matthew Jones becomes either a backup at guard or he moves to center and supplants Harry Miller.
What if…Harry Miller’s injury lingers into August, or he struggles to make the transition back to center (you can read my recent article on Miller by clicking here). Most likely, Jones, a redshirt junior who was the top center recruit in the country out of Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall High School, moves to center. Redshirt freshman Luke Wypler is also an option, but based on how well he played at the end of last season, I think Jones would be the guy.
What if…Matthew Jones impresses during his time at center this spring? In this situation, I can see Miller moving back to guard, and battling either Johnson, Jr. or Dawand Jones for a starting spot.
What if…a sleeper has a great spring and August camp, and makes it clear they deserve to be considered for the top five linemen? Three players fit this scenario for me. Max Wray, Enok Vimahi, and Ryan Jacoby.
Wray played very well in his only career start last season against Michigan State. So well, you forgot he was a career backup with little playing experience. I don’t see any way he replaces Thayer Munford or Nicholas Petit-Frere, who may be the best pair of tackles in the country, so the move would be to one of the guard spots.
But, I think this is a longshot scenario. I think a much more plausible situation is if Vimahi or Jacoby, both redshirt sophomores, push their way into the lineup. Every time I’ve seen Vimahi on the field I’ve been impressed with him.
For either of them to crack the top five, they’re going to have to play their way past two of the four of Johnson, Jr., Dawand Jones, Miller, and Matthews Jones. That’s a big mountain to climb, but I don’t think completely out of the question.
These are just a few scenarios that could play out. The actual possibilities are endless. What becomes apparent when looking at all of this is the Ohio State football team doesn’t just have offensive line depth, they have quality offensive line depth. That is going to go a long way in ensuring the Buckeye offense is a potent one in 2021.