COLUMBUS — Ohio State offensive line coach Justin Frye liked what he saw from his four first-year offensive linemen this spring, including a pair of area high school grads.
“Those guys really didn’t have those, ‘Oh those were the rookies,’ (moments in practice),” Frye said of a group of 2023 early enrollees that consists of Joshua Padilla, Austin Siereveld, Miles Walker and Luke Montgomery.
“They handled a lot of stuff pretty well.”
Padilla, a Wayne High School grad who was the No. 6 prospect in Ohio last year and No. 226 overall in 247Sports Composite rankings, faced a unique challenge.
He started at tackle for the Warriors but is trying his hand at center for Ohio State, a planned move that became a reality this spring when he found himself facing talented teammates like Mike Hall Jr. on the other side of the ball.
“So now the ball’s in his hand and he’s blocking Mike Hall and some of these things so that was good for him just to kind of get with that,” Frye said.
The coach also noted Siereveld, a Lakota East product who was the 298th overall prospect in his class, No. 15 interior lineman and eighth overall in Ohio, faced a challenge many players get when they jump from high school to college: More plays and more pass blocking.
To describe Lakota East as “run-heavy” last season would be an understatement. The Thunderhawks ran the ball 419 times and threw it just 83, a run/pass ratio that might make even Woody Hayes blush.
“So he’s now adjusting to the speed of the game,” Frye said. “And I was happy with all those guys.”
Siereveld was typically among the third-string guards during spring practice while Padilla was the No. 3 center but figures to slide back a spot with the return of veteran Jakob James from injury.
Findlay’s Montgomery, the No. 92 recruit in the country and No. 2 in Ohio, and Walker, a native of Brunswick, Conn., who was rated No. 499 nationally, both saw more time at tackle in spring but could end up playing inside or out when all is said and done.
Next up for all of them is another round of weight room work with Mickey Marotti, Ohio State’s director of strength and conditioning.
He is expected to have them ready to compete physically with older players at the end of the summer while Frye hopes their experience in the spring is a mental boon.
“It’s huge,” Frye said. “You’re doing major college workouts. You’re doing major college football practice and training. And essentially your (eligibility) clock’s not really started so you’re still in that extra half a year.”
He sees that as an advantage for any player but particularly linemen, who see a major increase in level of competition as well as mental workload.
“I mean it’s critical for all positions, but for a lineman now, it’s a whole new verbiage in the playbook. It’s a whole new speed and structure to defenses than what you’re used to,” Frye said. “It’s probably some new technique and different fundamentals you’ve not done. So a lot is new, and not a lot is habitual. And so the earlier jump you can get on that with the guys and that they’re emotionally and mentally ready to do, which those four guys were.
“Those are mature young guys, so that made it a little easier for them to really start to stealin’ good reps so that when they do hit fall camp there might not be a deer in the headlight now they’re just kind of like a little nervous getting going because they’re ready for it.”