The competition to replace Billy Price is down to two.
While that was largely assumed at the end of spring practice, Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa confirmed Wednesday that the battle to replace back-to-back Rimington Trophy winners is down to fifth-year senior Brady Taylor and redshirt freshman Josh Myers.
Following Ohio State's Spring Game on Saturday, head coach Urban Meyer said that Taylor was leading the two-man competition, but added he was not yet ready to add a starter. That could very well be because of the improvement Myers made as spring practice wore down.
Studrawa, who is entering his third season on Ohio State's coaching staff, said that Myers put together an impressive final two weeks of spring camp that has him still competing with Taylor for the right to walk out with the first-team offense on Sept. 1 against Oregon State.
"Both those guys are playing well. Josh Myers really the last two weeks was outstanding. Struggled the first two, but last two weeks, including in the spring game, he was outstanding, and Brady has been steady," Studrawa said. "So those two guys are going to go right through the summer and right through to camp battling it out for that spot.”
Myers started for the Scarlet team in Saturday's Spring Game and played every snap for what was largely the second-team offense. This after he missed most of the 2017 season with an injury.
A guard by trade, part of the reason Myers got off to a slow start this spring was because he was learning to snap the ball and also execute blocks at once. After accumulating more reps, Studrawa said he saw Myers get more comfortable in his new role and take strides in his development.
"I think his snap consistency got better. We grade that every day on a chart so they know. He was all over the place because he was trying to snap the ball and make all the blocks that we do, so that was new for him for the first time," Studrawa said. "And so I think toward the end he got consistent with snapping the ball, he was on target with those kind of things and now he understands what he has to do."
The shotgun spread offense is also new for Myers compared to what he did in high school, where his team ran primarily a triple option. Pass protection was a main focus of his development in year one and now, it is transitioning to a position that has to make audibles at the line of scrimmage, something he is starting to pick up on.
"He understands all the pressure of making the calls, setting the fronts, so the more and more he went on, he got 600-and-some reps. That’s outstanding," Studrawa said. "The fact that he got through it and the spring game was his best outing, that’s exactly what we were hoping to accomplish, and we did.”
Since Meyer arrived at Ohio State in 2012, it was almost always obvious who his starting center was going to be. In 2012-13, Corey Linsley anchored the center of the offensive line and is now the starting center for the Green Bay Packers. In 2014-15, it was Jacoby Boren, who while undersized for the position, brought toughness and a workmanlike attitude to the offensive line that paved the way for Ezekiel Elliott to have back-to-back elite seasons in terms of production. The last two centers, Pat Elflein and Price, have won the Rimington Trophy as college football's best center, so the standard has been set.
Even though the battle is still open as Ohio State enters the summer months, Studrawa said he isn't concerned about not having a set starter in place just yet.
"There’s no concern about that because I see how those kids are progressing and I see how they’re improving. And I know the one thing to get the best out of guys is competition," Studrawa said. "If you think you’re the guy – ‘I’m complacent, now I’m the guy’ – no, you’re not the guy. You’re going to strive and grind and work every single day to solidify that position and the guy that goes in is going to be really good.”