Ohio State Buckeyes: Large group of young linemen looking to make up for lost time this spring

Greg Studrawa has two primary tasks this spring for Ohio State football.

The Ohio State offensive line coach needs to figure out who should replace Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis at center and guard, respectively, and to bring along a big group of youngsters still getting acclimated to the college level to some extent or another.

With Matt Jones, Luke Wypler and Jakob James working at center and Paris Johnson Jr., Dawand Jones, Ryan Jacoby, Josh Fryar, Trey Leroux and Jack Jamieson splitting reps at the guard spots, he seems well on his way to accomplishing the first goal.

Thus he is turning his focus to the second as the Buckeyes build toward the spring game April 17.

“You know, it’s funny: I was just in the meeting writing this down. Of all the guys that we got that are here right now, there’s 11 guys in my room that it’s their first spring,” Studrawa said before repeating the number — “11 guys” — again for emphasis.

The figure is not only high but somewhat surprising.

There are not 11 freshmen in Studrawa’s room this spring, but he is facing a situation in which more than half of the scholarship players are in their first real spring practice environment.

That’s because the coronavirus pandemic wiped out last spring just as it was starting, robbing Wypler, Johnson and Leroux from getting as much experienced as they hoped when the members of the 2020 recruiting class enrolled last January.

The other 2020 offensive line signees -- Fryar and Grant Toutant -- arrived last summer so that pair and 2021 early enrollees James, Zen Michalski and Ben Christman would all be in their first springs anyway.

Then there is the trio of Dawand Jones, Harry Miller and Enokk Vimahi, 2019 signees who arrived in the summer of that year.

“You think these guys are veterans and those things because they’ve been here, but they lost last spring. They lost last summer. They lost (preseason) camp. So they’ve lost a year of development,” Studrawa said. “Here’s 11 guys that I’ve got a certain expectation level about, which is not going to change, but then I realized it’s the first time that 11 of these dudes have gone through spring. So instead of getting ahead of myself, I’m just enjoying the fact that we’ve had nine solid practices, and we can go get some technique work, and we can develop some toughness.”

Miller, who is limited this spring while recovering from an unidentified injury, earned a spot in the starting lineup last season anyway, while Dawand Jones and Vimahi also made it into the two-deep.

With them back along with returning starting tackles Nicholas Petit-Frere and Thayer Munford, Studrawa has a lot to work with at the top of the depth chart.

That also allows him to look to the future to make sure it’s still true a year from now and beyond.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” the coach said. “I think they’re buying in, but it’s still 11 of those guys are still learning how to get this done, how to be mentally tough. Some are further along than others, but they’re all developing through with it so that’s going to be my focus until the end of this spring is getting that foundation built in a lot of young guys.

“The Thayers and the Nicks, they’re coming along. They know how to do this. They know how this goes. They know what they need to work on to take them to an elite level, but it’s those other 11 or 12 guys that need that foundation built and that’s what we’re working on.”

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