Joshua Alabi and Branden Bowen arrived at Ohio State as part of the 2015 class that has, for the most part, underachieved during their careers.
While there have been a few gems in that class, such as K.J. Hill, Isaiah Prince, Jerome Baker, and Mike Weber, the class has seen several players transfer out and a few others have their careers ravaged by injuries.
Seven of the 26 players signed in that class are still at Ohio State as fifth-year seniors-to-be, and two of them, Bowen and Alabi, will be especially leaned on this year as leaders of a young offensive line.
Ohio State will have four new starters up front this year. Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers are going to be two of them, as will Rutgers transfer Jonah Jackson. Alabi or Bowen will be the fifth starter unless Nicholas Petit-Frere secures the right tackle spot, which is possible, with the others coming off the bench in a swing role as someone who can play multiple spots.
Despite coming back from a couple of serious injuries, Bowen looked to have the upper hand at right tackle during the spring, and he is excited to be back on the field.
“It’s been amazing,” Bowen said in April of his return to the field. “There’s no feeling like it. I think I said it in 2017, there’s no feeling like being able to play with your brothers out there. It’s a different set of brothers – Josh Myers, Nick (Petit-Frere), Gavin Cupp, Wyatt Davis – but I love them nonetheless. It’s amazing.”
Both Bowen and Alabi were significantly lower-rated coming out of high school than the highly touted Myers and Davis, but will be playing alongside them this year. Jackson was a stud in his own right, racking up a few accolades during his time at Rutgers. But Bowen and Alabi both have been in the program for four years (entering their fifth) and know the deal as to what is to be expected in Columbus.
As always, there will be an injury on the offensive line at some point during the season. It just happens. That is why having depth is so paramount at that position, and Ohio State has someone they can lean on, regardless of which one of Bowen and Alabi gets the starting nod when the Buckeyes open the season against Florida Atlantic.
With experience at both tackle and guard, and with their leadership in the locker room, the two will be valuable contributors in Columbus when the season kicks off.