Ohio State’s Josh Fryar Aiming For “Consistency” In Quest For Starting Left Guard Spot

By Colin Hass-Hill on August 5, 2021 at 11:05 am
Josh Fryar

You look up and down the Ohio State offensive line and the vast pedigree and experience hits you directly in the face.

At left tackle, Thayer Munford is a fourth-year starter who could’ve gone to the NFL last year and gotten drafted but instead came back for a fifth season at Ohio State. Across the line from him, five-star recruit and one-time No. 1 offensive line recruit in the nation Nicholas Petit-Frere returns as a second-year starter following his breakout junior season. Those two might be the best offensive tackles in college football this season.

To Petit-Frere’s left will be sophomore Paris Johnson – the top-rated lineman in his recruiting class – who’s bringing his stellar reputation to the five-man lineup as the right guard. On the other side of him will be Harry Miller, a third five-star prospect whose first season as a starter didn’t go swimmingly but who has garnered a lot of praise about how he has handled his offseason thus far.

The main question that remains unanswered up front is simple: Who’s the fifth starter?

Well, it might just end up being Josh Fryar. The redshirt sophomore worked with the first-team offensive line at left guard as preseason camp broke on Wednesday morning.

He doesn’t have the experience of Matthew Jones, who’s a fourth-year interior lineman who was rated as the No. 1 center in his class coming out of high school. He didn’t arrive in Columbus with the hype of Luke Wypler, who was nearly a top-100 overall prospect in his cycle.

Instead, Fryar has gone from being somebody who showed up as an overlooked three-star recruit to being squarely in the competition with Jones and Wypler to start at left guard. His stock has shot upward over the past year despite not enrolling until the summer of 2020 and playing only four offensive snaps – in the win at Michigan State – as a true freshman.

His ascent, especially given the rapidity of it, has turned heads. One of those heads that turned was that of a veteran offensive lineman whose attention was actually caught right away when Fryar showed up for summer workouts a year ago.

“I've seen him when he first came in in the summer, when COVID was still around – it's still around, of course, but when it was at its highest peak – and he was doing some stuff that was tremendous,” Munford said at Big Ten Media Days. “So I was like, wow, you actually have a chance to play here. But also, the same time, what are you going to do with it now?”

Apparently Fryar took to those words well.

He showed up in the spring, with Miller out due to injury, and stepped in to take a significant number of first-team reps. Now with everybody healthy, he has shown that he deserves to remain not just in the mix but at the forefront of it.

So, could Munford see Fryar as starting next to him on Sept. 2 when the Buckeyes take on Minnesota?

“100 percent,” Munford said. “The interior part is like wide open, of course, but also at the same time what coach Day has said, it's like who wants it more? If you want to go get it, go get it. It's not just like, oh, we're going to pick the best that we think. Whoever wants it, go get it. Then we decide at the end of camp who's actually earned that spot.”

Fryar’s in the process of trying to do exactly that.

“Josh has talent,” head coach Ryan Day said on Wednesday. “He needed to kind of change his body. He could do it for one or two plays, but then the consistency broke down in the spring. So this 11 weeks was important for him to get himself into shape. We'll look at the film and see once we get the pads on if he's made that next step. But he certainly has the ability. You could put on a highlight tape of him from the spring of probably 30 plays and you could say he's an All-Big Ten player, but then I could give you another clip where he looked like he was exhausted and made a lot of young mistakes.”

The next few weeks will tell the tale of whether Fryar can complete his rise and become a starter within just over a year after setting foot on campus for the first time. Jones and Wypler will keep pushing, and he’ll have to do what he can to hold them off.

It’s a credit to Fryar that he’s put himself in this position in such a short amount of time, and it’ll be all the more impressive if he can open the season in four weeks lined up between Munford and Miller.

“I think he really worked hard to change his body this summer,” Day said. “But once we get the pads on, we'll have an idea of how much progress he's actually made.”

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