This offseason, the Buckeyes lost a pair of multi-year starting offensive linemen in Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers.
They returned a pair of studs to bookend the unit up front, however, with Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere, and they're at work figuring out how to configure the interior of the line. To offer some updates on the progress, position coach Greg Studrawa and several of his linemen spoke to the media on Wednesday.
A bullet-point rundown of their comments:
- He says Matthew Jones, Luke Wypler and Jakob James are repping at center with Harry Miller being out. "All three of those guys are doing pretty well in there."
- On Josh Fryar: "His athleticism is what excited me in recruiting him." His ability to bend and basketball background made him intriguing. "He's a guy that's got some grit. He's got some toughness."
- On Paris Johnson moving from tackle to guard: "He is a kid that's very, very mentally tough. Without that first, he wouldn't be able to make that transition." He says he sometimes has to kick Johnson out of his office because he's such a student of the game. His desire to play has helped him with the transition, too.
- Asked about the offensive linemen and the quarterback battle: "I don't think they have a clue about the quarterback battle."
- He mentions 11 guys are going through their first spring camp ever. Until a foundation's built this spring, he says, they can't go win games.
- If he considered moving one of the offensive tackles inside to put Johnson at tackle: "I absolutely did." But he chose not to: "They were two of the best tackles in the country last year. They proved it. They're growing. They can help those guys inside." He thought it would be best to have the veterans stay at tackle.
- On Harry Miller: "I would assume he's going to be one of the best five." He says when the preseason comes along, Miller will jump right back into the mix.
- He says Donovan Jackson has been virtually in all of the meetings. Will he have a chance to start as a freshman? "Yes, he's going to have the opportunity to come in there and be one of the five just like everybody else does."
- Studrawa says Dawand Jones has been banged up so he hasn't practiced in several days. "He's got his weight down to the best it's been in a long time." He says he was "really playing well." Jones is expected back before the end of the spring.
- "I know the state of the room and you guys do too – what it was when I got here." He says he used to have no depth whatsoever up front, but the depth right now is a "testament to what we've done."
- He agrees when asked if Matthew Jones is the most improved player on the team. "Matt is a guy that's always had the physical tools." He says he got sick and missed a day or two with the flu, but Studrawa is "really excited" with where he's heading.
- The coaches are focused on improving Nicholas Petit-Frere's pad level to make him a more dominant run blocker. "What we've got to do is we've got to make him an elite run blocker."
- Thayer Munford told Studrawa that he hasn't peaked yet. He told his position coach he wants to be able to say, "I'm not just really good, I'm the best."
- Studrawa: "I've got a smart room. I've got smart guys."
- On Wypler: "He's a tough Jersey guy, first of all. I love that about him. He's rugged." When the national championship game ended, Wypler called him the next day and sent him video of him doing drills at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. "That kid stayed here the entire time." He says Wypler has gotten much better at snapping the ball and stepping quickly off the ball.
- If he has been on the right path: "I believe I have." He's happy with where he's at but is not satisfied with it.
- On Paris Johnson: "His maturity level has been tremendous. Freshman year, everybody gets very antsy, of course." He says he has settled down into offensive guard, and he's helping out his classmates and the younger guys.
- Munford says he believes he will be the best offensive tackle in next year's NFL draft class.
- On Jones: "His first two years here, he ain't have too good of a career here at first." But his mental state has gotten much better, he says.
- Wypler said the Buckeyes had a “sour taste in their mouth” after the national championship game, which is why he was back in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center the next day. There's two open jobs on the interior line and he wanted to put himself in the best position to win one.
- How he has improved in Year 2: "For me, it's really getting comfortable in the offense." He also has dedicated himself to developing in the weight room.
- "For Paris, I think he's making a seamless transition from the tackle spot to the guard spot." Wypler says Johnson is a "violent player" who can play any position because he has that mindset.
- He thought he'd have a spot at offensive tackle in his second year, but he's "more than happy to play guard" because Ryan Day sees a fit with him at guard.
- "I would say being able to switch from left guard to right guard is pretty seamless." He says it would be different – and more challenging – moving between tackle spots.
- Johnson says he gets to show his versatility, and that will help him when it comes time to go to the NFL. "I feel like the league will appreciate that when it's time." He'll play guard this season, but... "I feel like next season I will have an opportunity to play at tackle."
- "It's just been a great time being able to be back" in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for spring camp and winter workouts.
- "I've been really impressed with the middle of our offensive line." Petit-Frere says it's the job to "prove everybody wrong" every single year.
- Petit-Frere “gave a little bit of thought” to going to the NFL next season, but he felt like he had a lot to prove individually and has a goal of winning a national championship, so he's back.
- On Johnson being a student reporter for The Lantern, the school newspaper: "I think he's going to do great journalism."
- On Munford: "He has a lot of confidence about himself. He has a lot of confidence, a lot of effort and a lot of determination."