Dear Ohio State offensive lineman,
We hope this letter finds you (insert name: Jacoby Boren, Chad Lindsay, Antonio Underwood, Joel Hale, Chase Farris, Billy Price) well and, especially, healthy (two-a-days are rough we hear).
We’ve carefully reviewed your application to be a starting offensive lineman at Ohio State and, well, this is sort of awkward, but we’re not ready to make a decision. At least not yet.
“The good thing is we have a couple names in there,” coach Urban Meyer said Saturday. “The bad thing is it’s not solidified yet.”
Don’t get us wrong. We really like you, and we see a lot of potential in how you can help us this season. You, like most of our applicants, are on this team for a reason. Meyer brought you here for a purpose. You’re unusually big, really freaking strong and have quick hands and quicker feet.
"The thing that’s interesting is we have a lot of different parts or pieces to choose from," offensive line coach Ed Warinner said two weeks ago. "We’ve got a lot more choices. We have to see who rises to the top.”
But we can’t just hire anybody to fill the vacancies at left guard and center.
As I’m sure you know, we lost four multi-year starters in Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell. Boy, they were good. They made up a unit that’s regarded by some as one of the best offensive lines in school history. It’s why we hope you understand why this process is taking us so long. We’re intent on making the right hires. We need the right fits.
The good news: you’ve made it to the final round of the process. You’ve beat out the likes (at least, so far) of talented players like freshmen Demetrius Knox, Jamarco Jones, Marcelys Jones, Kyle Trout, Evan Lisle, and Brady Taylor. Those guys will be studs someday, but they’re young. In a season where we’ll be expected to compete for a Big Ten and national championship, we don’t have much room for young.
“What we lack is experience. But I think we’re going to have enough talent. I know we have a good work ethic. They’re tough. They train hard. We just have to get them up to speed. Experience comes from playing,” Warinner said.
And we need experience. We need someone who can make an impact from day one. In Taylor Decker, Pat Elflein and, most recently, Darryl Baldwin, we’ve found that. As I’m sure you already know, they’re starting offensive lineman and it’s not by accident.
We already know what we’re getting physically and athletically with all of you. What matters now is we need someone who gets the team’s culture.
“(It’s) very high effort. We’ve really taken that to heart. We’re all high character guys,” Baldwin said last spring. “We just need to be very consistent. That’s what we need to be as an offensive line – develop a consistency and really play well together.”
Added Decker: “I became a good player because of the culture created in the offensive line room. I believe 100 percent in that. We have a culture in that room, and I either had to become better or I wasn't going to play.”
Maybe most of all, we need you to understand that, no, we’re not going to expect you to be 2013’s offensive line. That’s an awfully tall order and, really, it’s probably an unfair expectation.
But we need you to be good. Really good. Our offense, and a tidal wave of momentum from last season, are counting on you.
We’ll be in touch by the end of next week.
All the best,