Jonah Jackson ran down the field with one hand raised, pointing his index finger into the air as quarterback Justin Fields sprinted toward the end zone for the first Ohio State Buckeyes touchdown of the 2019 season.
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At that moment, Jackson wasn’t thinking about his previous experience at Ohio Stadium as the starting right guard for Rutgers last September or why he announced his decision to transfer to Ohio State in February. He just wanted to give his quarterback, who was also making his first start for the Buckeyes, a hug after a touchdown on the fourth play from scrimmage Saturday against Florida Atlantic.
“I was very excited,” Jackson said Tuesday. “On the first drive, we scored, and he took it to the house for 51 yards. There’s nothing like that.”
Jackson, who started at left guard, threw one of four blocks on the left side that freed Fields. Left tackle Thayer Munford, center Josh Myers and right guard Wyatt Davis also helped make the run possible.
The Buckeyes added three more touchdowns in the first nine minutes and then coasted to a 45-21 victory. The offense produced 237 rushing yards and 232 passing yards. Each of the starting offensive linemen received champion grads from coach Ryan Day and his staff.
After watching the film, Day said he was more pleased with the play of the offensive line than he was when he left the field Saturday. Florida Atlantic threw different looks at the Buckeyes. Day said the line, for the most part, handled Florida Atlantic’s pressure.
“Jonah Jackson had nine knockdowns in the game,” Day said, “and Josh Myers had six knockdowns. Those guys played with effort. We have to do a better job of finding the hole and making yards after contact. That’s the bottom line. I know coach (Tony) Alford and the running backs will be working on that this week.”
Jackson, who’s from Media, Pa., near Philadelphia, was an All-Big Ten honorable mention last season at Rutgers and also a captain. He joined Ohio State as a graduate transfer, picking the Buckeyes over Oklahoma.
“Once I got here and realized everything that goes on in this great program,” Jackson said, “I realized this was it. This was home.”
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Jackson enrolled at Ohio State in June and made quick progress. He was the first newcomer to shed the black stripe from his helmet, earning that honor after four practices in August.
“When I came in, the guys welcomed me with open arms,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t like I had to do much. I had to obviously earn my respect, but the guys made me feel as comfortable as possible.”
Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa praised Jackson’s maturity, pointing out he was watching film on an off day during the preseason while everyone else was napping. Jackson played a physical game in the opener, Studrawa said, and the younger players took note of his play.
“He knows what he wants,” Studrawa said. “He’s goal oriented. It was hard for him to leave his friends (at Rutgers), but he wanted a chance to be successful. This game means so much to him. He wanted a chance to win. I notice that attitude about him. That’s what makes him a great player.”