Luke Wypler is willing to play any position for Ohio State. Even if it’s not on the offensive line.
"Whatever they need me to play. If they need me to kick return, punt, play quarterback, whatever they need me to do, I'm willing to do,” Wypler joked during his first interview session as a Buckeye in February.
In all seriousness, though, Wypler says he isn’t expecting to play any specific spot up front for the Buckeyes. While he was ranked as the No. 2 center in the recruiting class of 2020, and certainly has the potential to be next in a long line of Ohio State greats at the position, he says his approach is simply to do whatever he can to contribute.
“When I committed, I told them I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field, and wherever they put me, whatever they want to do with me, I'm gonna give 110 percent and let the chips fall where they fall,” Wypler said.
A native of New Jersey who comes to Ohio State with strong credentials both on the field and in the classroom, Wypler followed the lead of Harry Miller – the No. 2-ranked center in the 2019 recruiting class – by committing to the Buckeyes over Stanford.
Wypler was sold on Ohio State for two reasons: The academic standing of the Fisher College of Business, where Wypler plans to specialize in marketing, and the winning culture of the football program.
“Winning at the end of the day is anything and everything that matters,” Wypler said. “Being able to help my team and help my team win is my only goal.”
Wypler says his objective as a football player is to “bring intensity, focus and determination to the field, no matter what I'm doing,” and that’s the approach he’s bringing into his first season as a Buckeye, too.
At 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, Wypler is both physically and mentally mature enough to potentially play as a true freshman, and he has the skills to develop into one of Ohio State’s future standouts on the offensive line. Expected to play on the interior offensive line after playing tackle at St. Joseph Regional High School, Wypler has excellent agility for a man of his size, and will now look to get stronger with the guidance of Mickey Marotti and the strength and conditioning staff and hone his technique under the leadership of Greg Studrawa.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day named Wypler, along with five-star tackle Paris Johnson Jr., on the day he signed them as one of two offensive linemen in this year’s freshman class who he thought would have a chance to potentially play this season after enrolling early. But Wypler still won’t have an easy path to the field.
During the one week of spring practices the Buckeyes had before shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wypler was practicing as the second-team center behind Josh Myers. That said, the Buckeyes could move Miller back over from guard if they need anyone to fill in for Myers long-term. If Miller ends up being Ohio State’s center of the future after Myers in 2021 or 2022, that could mean Wypler sliding over to guard to compete for a starting spot, where he’ll have plenty of competition from other players already competing at that position, including Matthew Jones, Enokk Vimahi and Ryan Jacoby.
For now, though, Wypler said he’s just focused on improving on a daily basis, which he believes will ultimately give him a chance to play early in his career.
“For me, it's just coming in every day with a mindset that I got to get one percent better every day,” Wypler said. “You're never perfect. And for me, that's the mindset I have is every day you got to come in and just get better and learn something new, be like a sponge and just absorb everything.”
It helps being a part of a freshman class that included 14 early enrollees and will now include six offensive linemen as the entire 2020 class converges on campus for summer workouts.
“We all like to push each other, motivate each other,” Wypler said. “If you see someone else and you’re standing next to them, you're trying to pump them up and get them going. So I feel we each push each other and motivate each other, so that's huge.”
Because of the pandemic, Wypler didn’t get to have the full spring semester on campus that he and the rest of the early enrollees thought they would have before being joined by the rest of the freshman class. But even in just the couple months he was at Ohio State to begin the year, he could see just how motivated everyone in the program is to come back even stronger after last year’s heartbreaking College Football Playoff loss to Clemson, and he wants to help make that happen.
“I think there's just a burning passion to win, and when they lost that game, I feel like that was a shot in the stomach to everybody in this building. And someone that wasn't even a part of that season and really had nothing that I contributed or did, you just walk in the building and you kind of got a pit in your stomach,” Wypler said. "As you walk in our weight room, the biggest sign there is 29-23, and even thinking about it gives me goosebumps.”