Ohio State’s Munford made it to NFL Combine despite personal challenges

Thayer Munford might be Ohio State’s most unlikely representative at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

Not only did the offensive lineman face long odds and tough times growing up near Cincinnati, he also thought if he were going to go pro it would have been sooner.

“To be honest, I didn’t actually expect to start for four years,” he said Thursday. “I always thought I was gonna be like, three and done or four and done. But luckily with COVID in 2020, it got me to a point where I could stay here to get my degree. I always told my mom, I want to get my degree before I leave.”

He took advantage of the NCAA granting everyone on a roster in 2020 an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic. That made him a fifth-year senior who actually played all five years without a redshirt, including three years as a starting tackle and one at guard.

He also picked up a sport industry degree along the way.

“I think my legacy is basically just don’t ever give up,” Munford said. “Just coming from an inner-city community in Cincinnati, Ohio — Lincoln Heights — just coming from that area is the biggest accomplishment for me. Everybody comes from different backgrounds, of course, but I feel like I have one of the greatest stories that’s ever been through Ohio State. Having the right people in my corner and having the right people to help me out, that’s a big journey. Going through adversity, a lot adversity, it’s wonderful. It kind of sucked during it, but I appreciate it right now.”

Nate Moore, who coached Munford at La Salle High School in Cincinnati then again at Massillon Washington in northeast Ohio, got credit for making sure Munford could make it.

“He took me in under his wing,” Munford said. “He basically did everything for me — gave me clothes, gave me food, helped me study throughout winters. He did all that stuff just to help me out for getting me into college. When I was at La Salle, I had a 1.9 GPA, and he saw that I had a learning disability, which is reading comprehension. And I had a hard time understanding what an article was (saying). Just seeing how he was to me, I took him as like a role model I could look up to.”

Munford started 45 games for the Buckeyes and earned All-America recognition last season, but it remains to be seen what kind of role he’ll carve out in the NFL.

He was considered one of the top tackles in the country in 2020, but he had some ups and downs last season after moving inside.

Ultimately he hopes the versatility he showed playing multiple positions will increase his draft stock, as will the selflessness it showed as he played out of position last year.

Munford also overcame a back injury that hindered him his sophomore season.

“I’ve heard I could go like second or third round, but you only worry about what you can control,” he said. “If they pick me up in the second round, great. If they pick me up in the third round, great. Any team that picks me, I’ll be like, ‘OK, it’s time to go.’”

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