Every season since Urban Meyer's arrival in Columbus, a Buckeye offensive lineman has emerged as one of the key leaders and anchors of not only the offensive line, but the entire team.
First it was Jack Mewhort – a captain, All-American and eventual second-round draft pick. After his departure, his replacement at left tackle, Taylor Decker, picked up the slack. Like Mewhort, Decker was a captain and All-American, then went on to be selected in the first round by the Detroit Lions.
The next two were interior linemen. Pat Elflein captained the team and led the slobs during his senior season in 2016, when he was a consensus All-American and Rimington Trophy winner before being selected in the third round of the NFL Draft. Then last season, Billy Price was the definite leader, captaining the team while becoming a unanimous All-American, Rimington Trophy winner and a first-round pick.
There's a noticeable trend here – every season, Ohio State has a dominant, veteran leader anchoring the offensive line and helping lead the team. For that to happen once again this season, it will have to be from Isaiah Prince or Michael Jordan – the two most veteran, experienced slobs on the roster.
Both Prince and Jordan are entering their third season as starters, with Prince as a senior and Jordan a junior. They are far and away the most experienced players of the group, as no other Buckeye offensive lineman even has a full season of experience as a starter.
Because of that experience, they're able to lead their position group with empathy, because there's very little the other players can experience that they have not gone through themselves. Prince, for example, knows what it's like to struggle during his first year as a starter, and recognizes that he can use what he went through during that season to help other players.
"If I didn't play my sophomore season, I don't think I'd be the player that I am today. I am really confident. Those lessons have taught me that when things get hard, just keep going," Prince said in the spring. "It taught me how to work and it made me who I am.
"After that year, my focus was to just play as hard as I can and just have really great focus on what I needed to do to get better," he added. "I also apply that to the younger guys in my room now, showing them what that example looks like. Just be a leader for them and someone they can look up to."
Though this is Prince's first season where he's really looked to as a battle-tested leader, Prince's teammates seem to think the fits into the role naturally.
"He has got a lot of respect from people in the room. We really look up to him even though he is younger than I am," center Brady Taylor said. "He comes up all the time and helps me whether it be hand (placement) or sets, and of course I respect his opinion because he has become a really good player and a really good leader for us."
But leadership is only part of the recipe. Those guys – Mewhort, Decker, Elflein and Price – were all exceptional, award-winning linemen who all now start on Sundays in the NFL. Prince and Jordan have that standard to live up to, but they have the talent to do it.
Both players were top-15 offensive line prospects coming out of high school and have shown off their obvious talent and consistency, especially in recent years. It seems they're both due for a breakout year.