Can Sonny Styles make a smooth switch to linebacker for the Ohio State football team?

After spending his first two years as a safety, the talented Buckeye junior tries to make the switch to linebacker.
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

One of the most talked about subjects of this offseason for Ohio State football fans is the switch to linebacker by Sonny Styles. After spending his first two seasons at safety, can Styles effectively make the move to his new position?

 Adjusting to a new position isn’t easy. More goes into it than a coach telling a player, “Hey, why don’t you go hang out with that position group over there now.” A player making a position change is stepping into a whole new world. One of the things Styles will deal with at linebacker is playing closer to the line of scrimmage.

OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has pointed out that Styles will have to get used to things around him happening much faster. At safety, you have an extra half-eye blink to read your key and react. A small hesitation or lean in the wrong direction will hurt but is not fatal. Linebackers do not have that luxury. Your key must be read NOW and any hesitation in reacting will get you buried. Styles must learn to play faster than what was expected of him in the past.

Another adjustment Styles will have to make is consistently dealing with very large people trying to block him. Play after play of 300-plus pound linemen or 250-pound tight ends leaning on you can wear you down. He is going to have to add weight to his 6’4” frame.

Last season, he was listed as 230 pounds. I’d love to see him in the 237-240 range for 2024, although I think he will top out at 235. Learning proper technique at the position will also help Styles take on larger blockers.

Can Styles make all of these adjustments? I have no doubt. He is a supremely talented player who will learn to play more near the line of scrimmage. I also don’t see him having a problem adding weight and maintaining his speed and quickness. At 6’4”, 230 pounds last year, he looked more slim than bulky. Styles seems to have room to add plenty of weight.

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I think he’s going to be a sizable upgrade at WILL (weak side) linebacker and be one of the better linebackers in the Big Ten. There is no question Styles will effectively make the switch to his new position.