For the last two seasons, Ohio State has boasted the top center in college football along its offensive line.
Pat Elflein and Billy Price both earned the Rimington Award as the nation's top center during their respective senior seasons with the Buckeyes. Entering 2018, however, Ohio State is tasked with replacing arguably its most consistent position over the last two seasons.
Fifth-year senior Brady Taylor is getting the first opportunity to earn the starting job, and said Wednesday he is embracing the successful run that the center position has had at Ohio State over the last two seasons.
"It goes with something Coach Meyer always says. If you replace a good player with someone not as good, the team gets worse," Taylor said. "So that is kind of my goal, to be the best center in the nation. Being behind them the last two years, that is definitely a goal of mine and I think I can accomplish it."
While Taylor is confident, his head coach had a different outlook after the first day of spring practice on March 6.
Despite a highly competitive battle at quarterback, Meyer said he is much more concerned with the competition at center, a spot where Ohio State hasn't had a first-year starter since 2014.
“That is kind of my goal, to be the best center in the nation.”– Brady Taylor
"I'm more stressed about center. I think when you have quality players going at it, there's no stress at all," Meyer said. "I don't know who is going to be our center. I know we have some people that are going to go after it. Center is every bit important as quarterback. I don't know if they're great players or not."
Taylor is competing with the likes of Matthew Burrell, Josh Myers and even Josh Alabi at times for reps at center this spring. Of that group, Taylor is the elder statesman, but still has limited reps. Since arriving on campus in 2014, the Columbus native has yet to play in a game that wasn't already decided, at least in a premier role.
He views his biggest challenge heading into 2018 as playing in road environments and handling the hostile crowds. This season, the Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to AT&T Stadium for a virtual road game against TCU before playing games at Penn State and Michigan State in conference.
"The challenge for me is just being ready to go into those hostile environments," Taylor said. "I have some reps, but definitely going into those bigger environments at center – I am the most important person because I touch the ball first every play – I have to be ready for that, and I think I am ready for it."
Growing up a Buckeye fan, Taylor is excited for the opportunity to start his final year in the scarlet and gray. He said his motivation to play for Ohio State, in addition to people doubting his ability to fill the shoes of Elflein and Price, has him ready to prove everyone wrong in 2018.
"I have a chip on my shoulder, especially being from Columbus. This is my fifth year and my first year starting and that is always in the back of my head. I feel like a lot of people doubt that I can do it, but I have been behind some pretty good players. It has been a long journey. It is a great opportunity."