Going into his redshirt freshman season at Ohio State in 2018, Josh Myers had his sights set on becoming a starter on the Buckeyes’ offensive line.
The starting center job was open following Billy Price’s graduation to the NFL, and Myers spent much of the spring and summer battling with Brady Taylor for the opportunity to replace him. When Taylor suffered a knee injury during preseason camp, however, the Buckeyes ended up deciding to move Michael Jordan over to center, with Malcolm Pridgeon taking his place at left guard.
Myers ended up playing only 72 offensive snaps last season, all with the second-team offensive line, and at the time, he wasn’t happy about the lack of playing time. In hindsight, though, he realizes the extra year to develop before being thrown into the fire as a starter was probably good for him.
“As a redshirt freshman, not winning that starting spot, I was upset and angry, just ‘cause I wanted it so bad,” Myers said Tuesday. “But looking back on it now, I probably wasn’t ready for it.”
With Jordan now in the NFL, Myers is Ohio State’s starting center this year, and he has looked ready for it. He’s graded out as a champion in five of the Buckeyes’ first six games, and has led the way for an interior offensive line – also including guards Jonah Jackson and Wyatt Davis – that has been dominant this year both in run blocking and in pass protection.
When Kevin Wilson was asked the play of Ohio State’s offensive line last week, the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator couldn’t help but repeat himself when praising Myers.
“I think Josh Myers is playing real good,” Wilson said. “I mean, real good. Real good. He’s playing good.”
Myers is Ohio State’s first first-year starter at center since Jacoby Boren in 2014 – after Boren graduated in 2015, the Buckeyes moved a starting guard to the apex of their offensive line for three straight years (Pat Elflein, Price and Jordan). But this year, the Buckeyes turned to Myers from the beginning of the offseason to take over one of the most important positions up front.
The third-year Buckeye said “it feels amazing” to know that he has earned his coaches and teammates’ trust.
“That trust is everything, and trust is why we’re 6-0,” Myers said. “Trust is why, I think, the offensive line is playing so well right now. We all trust each other.”
While Myers was ranked as the 13th-best offensive line prospect in the recruiting class of 2017, he needed some time to adapt to playing in a college offense after playing in a Wing-T offense at Miamisburg High School, and he acknowledged that he did not feel fully comfortable in pass protection until the second half of last season.
After not playing much last year, though, Myers was determined to cement his place in Ohio State’s starting offensive line this offseason.
“I just approached it like I had something to prove and something to earn every single day, and I did,” Myers said. “And that’s how I approached it every single morning. It was on my mind before practice, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t let it slip.”
Myers still believes that he can continue getting better, and with upcoming games against a top-30 defense at Northwestern this week and against Wisconsin’s nationally top-ranked defense next week, head coach Ryan Day believes the toughest tests could still be yet to come for Ohio State’s offensive line – though he is pleased with how Myers played in the first half of the regular season.
“So far, so good. I think his communication has been really good with those guys inside, and all three of those guys are really new,” Day said of Myers. “But we're going against a really good defense this week, and we're going to continue to go against really good defenses moving forward. So the tale is yet to be written, but obviously a good start.”
Now that he has half a season as a starter under his belt, though, Myers feels like he has gotten into a groove, and he has an understanding of how to deal with the challenges of being a starting center that could still come his way.
“One of the hardest things about center and about me as a player is I always wanted to get it so right, which is one of the things I struggled with, like I mentioned my redshirt freshman year, because I wanted it to be perfect,” Myers said. “I think accepting that it’s not always going to be perfect, and going fast and living with the call I make and what I do, has helped me come a long way.”