Decker Makes His Move at Right Tackle

By Kyle Rowland on August 7, 2013 at 9:30a

The 2012 Ohio State offensive line appeared in all but 10 plays during the Buckeyes’ undefeated season. Their cohesion helped propel a high-velocity offense to more than 37 points per game. But there’s a missing link in the five-man unit entering 2013. Plugging the vacancy is a baby-faced sophomore with shoulder-length locks.

Taylor Decker, a little brother to four behemoths, will attempt to rebuild the nucleus of a unit that concocted 37 rushing touchdowns and produced the nation’s 10th-best rushing attack. Spring practice didn’t manufacture a right tackle; Decker and Chase Farris each executed inconsistently. Just three days into fall camp, though, Decker has performed like a tremendous machine. 

“He’s coming along great,” said left guard Andrew Norwell. “He’s improved a lot since spring ball. He’s stronger and faster thanks to Mickey Marotti. I have no problem with him playing right tackle. I think he’s a great addition.”

To win the line of scrimmage with technique, toughness and a competitive spirit – the philosophy of offensive line coach Ed Warinner – it’s Decker that must mesh with his allies. Norwell, Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall have appeared in a combined 132 games and started 78 times.

The group has now welcomed a little brother. And like older siblings tend to behave, the quartet has shown Decker tough love in the form of teasing, name-calling and good-natured ribbing. Norwell, who also sports a lion’s mane, said of the light-hearted hazing, “We like to push his buttons.”

“It’s a rite of passage,” Mewhort said. “We’ve all been through it, us four guys. As you’re growing up in the program, it’s part of it. It’s our job to teach him and show him the way. It’s our responsibility as his adoptive big brothers to make sure he feels the heat a little bit.”

Said Decker: “It hasn’t been anything too bad. They just make jokes. They’re very helpful and bringing me up the ranks, and teaching me how to be an Ohio State lineman.”

At the moment, it’s not such a good thing. The four returnees are on solid footing, but behind them lay a wasteland. The Buckeyes have little in the way of depth after focusing on other areas of need in recent recruiting classes.

“In order to be a starter here you have to show more than glimpses. You have to do it more than one day.”

“They don’t look Ohio Stateish,” Meyer said. “We’re going to have to hang in there and not have guys get hurt. We have depth issues.”

Decker can ease the worry if he locks up the starting spot at right tackle and reaches his potential. The former four-star recruit entered Ohio State with visions of starting from Day 1. That path was altered, but it wasn’t all for naught. 

The experience of battling a senior and then filling a backup role allowed Decker to grow as a player. He understands the objective entering his second fall camp. But it doesn’t stop there. The end goal isn’t to start at right tackle. Decker’s ambition stretches far beyond that.

“I don’t want to be the right tackle just because I’m the only one there,” he said. “I want to earn the coaches and guys on the line’s trust. They’re great players, I don’t want to be detrimental to their season. I want to help them. They deserve to have a great season.”

Decker admitted that playing alongside returning starters makes him comfortable. Everyone inside the locker room is aware of what they’ve accomplished and their impact on the team. It’s a level Decker has not reached, even when given the opportunity for five weeks during March and April.

Instead of hanging his head, though, Decker took ownership, detailing how he didn’t play up to his own standards, let alone that of the coaching staff. Decker has held leadership roles on teams since he was in middle school. It’s a position of influence, but also one indicative of the caliber of player. Knowledge is essential, and Decker has plays, blocks and scenarios memorized. But that alone won’t give him the start against Buffalo. 

“In order to be a starter here you have to show more than glimpses,” Warinner said. “You have to do it more than one day. We’ve told him we’ll call him a starter when you do it day after day after day with consistency. That’s a trademark with some of the other guys, and that’s how they established themselves as starters.

“Taylor is heading in that direction. He’s had what I would call three good days in a row. After we have six days of hitting in a row, let’s see if he’s consistent. That’s the mark of a good player.”

For Decker, it’s 24 days of preparation for the next beginning of a career. For four seniors, it’s 24 days until the beginning of an end. The next four months will be filled with lasts. Rankings and standings will not be included.

To duplicate last season’s rollicking success, Braxton Miller and his skill set depend on a wall of associates.

“We have to have all five spots working together as a unit,” Norwell said. “We set the tone for the offense. With Taylor, he’s going to be great. I have no problem. Our mentality is four to six seconds of relentless effort. We block until the whistle blows.

“We expect to be great.”


Comments Show All Comments

BuckAlum35's picture

Very excited to see this o-line perform, the potential and coaching is there to be one of the best in year. If there is one area where the big ten has no reason to suffer in recruiting because of lack of talent in the north it is the offensive line. I think the NFL draft has shown that there are as many quality o-lineman in the region as just about anywhere, just need to do a good job identifying them.

bishop072's picture

Couldn't agree more. It's not about the lack of the right players I think, but lack of development. The Walruss did next to nothing with some able bodied young men. What he did (or more apt DIDN'T DO) is a crime not only to Buckeye Nation, but the football gods themselves!

niblick's picture

Decker is the least of my concerns this year.  He'll be fine and this O-line is going to be GREAT.

Citrus's picture

I think the line is going to be better than okay

stittracer99's picture

Any o-line is truly only as good as their weakest link. You gotta believe that Decker must really be turning the corner if the other guys on the line are giving him their endorsement to play with them.

d1145fresh's picture

It amazes me what the O-line could have been the past ten years if we actually had good position coaching (this goes for a lot of other positions as well). Nonetheless I think Warinner has done a great job both last year and leading into this year. I also think it drastically helps that this O-line is going up against one of, if not the, best D-line they will face all year in practice every day.

RunEddieRun1983's picture

I've thought for a while now that the problem at RT isn't the inconsistency, it's the two guys getting used to the speed of the guy(s) they're defending.

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

Buckin-J's picture

“We expect to be great.”

Now that's a great attitude to see from the O-line!  Make a wall for Braxton.

Go Bucks or go home. 

Earle's picture

I find it interesting that Meyer called out both the Offensive and Defensive Lines yesterday, so it can't be that one is dominating the other.  I think the issue is inconsistency, and on Decker's part, it's nothing that daily battles against Spence and Washington can't cure.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

avail31678's picture

I certainly may have missed something, but didn't Meyer call out the linebackers, not the D-line?  I only  say that because I specifically remember wondering, well "how is the D-line doing?" since the D-line is a big question mark this year also.

Earle's picture

Both...from Kyle's recap of yesterday's practice:

The offensive line and defensive line are only “OK,” according to Meyer. He went on to add the linebackers to that group, saying the O-line and linebackers specifically are not “Ohio Stateish.”

So, in re-reading it, he wasn't as hard on the D-line as the O-line and LB's, but I'm pretty sure he's not happy with "just OK", but it's certainly better than "not Ohio Stateish" if I'm properly translating coach-speech.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

AcrossTheField11's picture

Jesus, he looks like John Simon's very masculine sister.  Defensive lines, we're putting you on notice. 

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

RedStorm45's picture

Any word on Dodson?  Just curious where's he's slotting in (assuming Ferris is now the #2 RT).
So, 2014...with 4 new starters and an admitted-lack of depth by Urban behind these guys.  Hopefully the young guys behind them develop throught the year.

Squirrel Master's picture

I always thought of Dodson as a LT backup. I see the backups as, Dodson at LT, Chase at RT now, Elflein being the first guard backup and Boren as the backup center. Obviously the others will just provide depth in bodies, these 4 are what I would considered skilled enough to start but probably not meeting expectations or better than the actual starters.
It will be nice to finally see what Dodson is able to do. Losing last year with an injury and basically going unnoticed all year hopefully puts some drive in the kid, if it wasn't already there.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

chirobuck's picture

I was curious about this too, I was looking for anything I could find on him in the spring but there really wasn't anything, good or bad, I see him as a highly rated guy coming out that may need to step it up if he doesn't want passed up, considering he has not only Lisle but an amazing group of freshman next season on his heels


^ best post ever ^

Defend Youngstown's picture

Warriner commented after practice the other day and mentioned Dodson as one of the guys solidly in the two deep. He named him right after Farris.

ScarletGray43157's picture

The trenches are where games are won or lost.  It doesn't matter what style of offense is played.  There must be a solid foundation along the line for a good, or great, season to be built on.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

Squirrel Master's picture

It will be nice to get some sophomores and underclassmen to start developing leadership roles like Decker. Its nice having Mewhort and other seniors become leaderships but that only filfulls that need for 1 year. Need some guys to lead for a few years like John Simon did.
Urban's opinion of "needs work" or "not Ohio Statish" is obviously different than ours. He has some high expectations for these players and it is so nice when they reach that expectation from him, because we know we are in for a treat when Urban is satisfied.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Ross Fulton's picture

Urban's comment was in reference to the depth along the line, not the starters. The starters are just fine. 

chirobuck's picture

this line is going to be the best collective group in the country this year and the younger guys better be taking notes now because next season its going to get really interesting....there will be some true freshman licking their chops that have the talent to play


^ best post ever ^

Hovenaut's picture

There's been plenty of talk about settling the right tackle position, and I eagerly read this article in lieu of the subject.

I feel Decker will step up fine, and Farris (along with the rest of the backups) will continue to develop.

Ohio State has an excellent staff and four returning starters from arguably one of the better units in the nation last year to help solidify and develop as a group.

They expect to be great, and I believe they will be.

USMC11917's picture

Am I the only one the sees a resemblance in Decker to that of the Undertaker? Hey, there are worse monikers to have.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Yeah, USMC, there is a resemblance. Let's hope he buries some defenders!

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Historically, the O line has been a strength of Buckeye football. From Hicks to Lachey to Pace to Mangold (fill in the other greats over the years), we've seen some truly great athletes opening holes and protecting Heisman trophy winners.
The Walrus regime was truly "not Ohio Stateish" which showed up glaringly in the '06 NC game and seemed to unravel even more from there.
It's great to see UFM & staff not only recruiting studs, but also developing them.
When the O line & D line reach their true potential, crystal footballs (or whatever the new NC trophy will look like) will follow.

bedheadjc's picture

Aragorn has gotten heavy.

USMC11917's picture

Yeah I can totally see that. 

Northbrook's picture

There were too many times last season when Brax had to elude DLmen when attempting to pass. Not all of that was the fault of the OL but too much was. There is plenty room for improvement.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Glad to hear that Decker is coming along so well.  We need him to develop into a dominant Tackle.  Looks like he is on the right path.  Hopefully he will continue to develop and the O-line will become a wrecking machine!
Go Bucks!

BeijingBucks's picture

Kyle if you consider that a 'baby face'... Whoever's baby u are referring to needs to stop having kids stat.
My personal feeling is the OL is ok when I don't hear Spence is killing them on the edge. We did hear Washington a little...

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

pjtobin's picture

Good to hear he is still pushing himself to get better. I hope this line is as good on the field in real life as it is in my dreams. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

m5987usus's picture

Taylor decker is a hash tag #bossman