Like Kryptonite for Line Talent

By Jason Priestas on April 30, 2009 at 9:00a
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Mike Adams looks to break the curseWon't you break the curse, sir?

We try our hardest not to be that blog.  You know, the one where the writers rant and complain all day and in between call for the firing of various coaches and/or mascots.  The coaches are human, have families to take care of and we shudder at the thought of someone watching film of us on the job.

But reflecting on the fact that only two Buckeye offensive linemen have been drafted in the past three years -- none higher than in the 6th round -- and it's time to speak up a little.  After all, Jim Bollman is playing with our emotions.

Since 2004, Ohio State has brought in some of the top line talent in the country coming out of high school, but it just hasn't translated at Columbus.  Let's recap, shall we (star rankings refer to Rivals' grades):

Kyle Mitchum, 2004 (****)

Micthum was a Parade and USA Today All-American, played in the Army All-American Bowl and Rivals had him as the 4th-best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania. He left Ohio State with the same number of starts as me (though to be fair, he was injured for a good part of his career).

Ben Person, 2004 (****)

Out of Xenia, Person was Ohio High's 3rd-best prospect in the state and Rivals' 10th-best guard prospect in the country. He started 13 games as a junior and nine as a senior on a group largely considered to be among the weaker lines in recent memory. He went undrafted last week and has a free-agent tryout with the Detroit Lions.

Steve Rehring, 2004 (***)

Rehring, by way of West Chester Lakota, arrived in Columbus as the Rivals' 29th-best tackle prospect nationally and the 15th-best prospect in the state of Ohio. He started 10 games as a sophomore, 13 as a junior and 8 as a senior, but amazingly, seemed to regress with each season. He also went undrafted last week, but has a workout with the Bengals, likely thanks to Coop pulling some strings for him.

Alex Boone, 2005 (*****)

Boone was Mr. Everything: a Parade and USA Today All-American, participant in the US Army game, Rivals' 3rd-best tackle prospect nationally and Scout.com's #1 prospect in the Midwest. He played in 11 games as a frosh before starting 10 games for the loaded 2006 team at left tackle. Hopes were high, to say the least. But, after being exposed by the Gators in the championship game that year, he followed the same trajectory as Rehring, starting all 26 games his junior and senior season, but never really getting to that next level. He was undrafted as well, but signed a free agent contract with the 49ers shortly after the draft.

Jim Cordle, 2005 (****)

Cordle was Rivals' and Scout.com's 7th-best guard prospect in the nation and the #4 prospect in the state of Ohio out of Lancaster. He started 13 games as a sophomore and 12 more last season as a junior. He has a good chance to be a captain for his senior season, but barring an amazing year, it's hard to see him going any earlier than the 6th round of the 2010 draft.

Current Players

Last year, the Buckeye brought in tackles Mike Adams (*****), Mike Brewster (*****) and J.B. Shugarts (****). The three represent the best line class of this decade, yet only Brewster has been able to claw his way into early playing time, starting at center as a frosh. Shugarts has been injured for much of his Buckeye career, and Adams, after getting hurt early last season is battling a former tight end for the open spot at left tackle, despite being given every opportunity to grab the spot.

So, what's the problem? The easy answer is Bollman. After all, Tressel had to step in and take over motivational duties last seasons shortly after Spielman accused his group of engaging in a pillow fight against the mighty Bobcats of Ohio. But are there other factors? Is Director of Football Performance Eric Lichter culpable in any way? Is it the training table? Is the easy access to cheap Natty Lite at play?

One thing is for sure. If the line doesn't step up its play this season after going head-to-head with a dominant defensive front every day in practice, something has to change. There's just too much talent going to waste as it stands right now.

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