Newcomers could scramble Buckeyes’ search for new offensive tackles

INDIANAPOLIS — After the obligatory update to the quarterback competition, Ryan Day’s take on the offensive line figured to be the biggest Ohio State news to come out of Big Ten Media Days.

And there was indeed news.

The head coach of the Buckeyes’ overview of the position heading into the preseason included the possibility a true freshman crashes the party.

“You know, Luke Montgomery, I’ve been very impressed with him,” Day said Wednesday. “So we have some good candidates there, but now they gotta go compete, and it’s gonna come down to what they look like in the preseason. There’s no more waiting around. They’ve gotta go.”

Montgomery is a 6-foot-4, 298-pound native of Findlay, Ohio.

He was the a four-star recruit and the No. 2-rated prospect in Ohio last season in both 247Sports rankings and 247Sports Composite rankings, ending up No. 92 nationally in the latter.

“He’s in the competition right now,” Day said. “I told him the other day, ‘I know you’re a true freshman, but you came here to play, so that should be your mentality. Now, whether you play in the first game or not, I don’t know. Maybe you don’t play this year,’ but I just see things in him. We see things in him that are very encouraging, and I think everything you invest in Luke, you’re gonna get back. He has all the traits you look for in a really good offensive lineman.”

Ohio State lost both starting offensive tackles from last season as Dawand Jones and All-American Paris Johnson Jr. both opted to enter the NFL Draft.

Josh Fryar, a 6-6, 320-pound senior from Beech Grove, Ind., entered the spring penciled in at left tackle while Tegra Tshabola and Zen Michalski were viewed as the main competitors at right tackle.

No one came out of spring having locked down a spot at tackle, and Ohio State ultimately added Josh Simmons as a transfer from San Diego State.

Simmons is listed at 6-6, 305 while Tshabola goes 6-6, 327, and Michalski is a 6-7, 310-pound sophomore.

Simmons was a four-star recruit in the class of 2021 and a starter for the Aztecs last season, experience that could give him a leg up in the competition to replace Jones at right tackle.

“He’s just getting here,” Day said of Simmons. “We need to see what we got on the field. We don’t know. We see a lot of talent, but Ohio State’s different. This is a different offense. Everything about it’s different.”

Day added that Tshabola, a four-star recruit from Lakota West in the class of 2022, “has done some good things in the offseason,” but Michalski’s name never came up.

As for Fryar, who performed admirably during a spot start for an injured Jones last season, Day said summer has been positive.

“I felt like Josh showed flashes, wore down a little bit,” Day said. “So one of the challenges we had was for him to change his body and lose some weight. He’s done that. I think he’s like at 315 now, which is I think we’re (OSU director of strength and conditioning Mickey Marotti) wants him. And so if he can sustain, then he can play with anybody in the country. And so that’s why this summer was so important to him, and I think he’s done that. I think he’s put in the work so that now it’s time to go compete.”

Center is also unsettled after Luke Wypler surprisingly chose to go pro early.

Redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman battled Vic Cutler, a senior who transferred from Louisiana Monroe, during spring ball, and junior Jakob James is expected to be in the mix as well when camp starts. James missed spring practice recovering from an unidentified injury.

Sophomore Donovan Jackson and senior Matt Jones return as starting guards.

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