Quick Hits: Ohio State Players Ready to Play Indiana, Josh Fryar Talks About Starting at Right Tackle in His Home State and Xavier Johnson Calls Wearing Block O “Surreal”

By Garrick Hodge, Andy Anders, Dan Hope and Chase Brown on August 30, 2023 at 9:36 pm
Josh Fryar

It's officially game week.

Ahead of Ohio State's Week 1 matchup against Indiana on Saturday, six players met with reporters Wednesday to discuss the season opener and various other topics: Josh Fryar, Lathan Ransom, Donovan Jackson, TreVeyon Henderson, Mike Hall and Xavier Johnson. 

Fryar talked about starting at right tackle in his home state of Indiana, while Henderson and Hall talked about recovering from their injuries last season. Johnson said it was “surreal” to be awarded the Block O earlier this month. Jackson expressed confidence in the offensive line while Ransom was eager to hit the field and play Indiana.

Videos from each of their media sessions and bullet-point recaps of what each of those six Ohio State players had to say can be found below.

Josh Fryar

  • On being named Ohio State’s starting RT against Indiana: “I think it means the world. The start means the world. Indiana is a tough team… just gotta go out there and do the fundamentals like Coach Day said.”
  • On setting the tone with the run game against the Hoosiers: “I think it’s important. Indiana is a really good team. We will try to establish the run. The pass game will do what it does.” Fryar said if Ohio State’s offensive line can “do its jobs, the rest will take care of itself.”
  • Fryar on Indiana: “They have a lot of transfers, but those transfers are good. I think they are gonna be a really good team.”
  • Fryar said Ohio State’s offensive line wants to send a message this weekend, but that message is simple: “We go out there, do our job and win the game.”
  • On whether or not Ohio State’s offensive line is better at run blocking or pass blocking: “I think we are good all around.”
  • On Matt Jones: “Matt is really quiet. He doesn’t talk a lot. But we have a really special connection… I understand his tone, what he gets done… I think it’s really special. Having a guy like that that has played a lot of games really helps.”
  • A Beech Grove, Indiana, native, Fryar said he is excited to play in his home state on Saturday. The Buckeyes will return to the Crossroads of America for matchups against Notre Dame, Purdue and possibly for the Big Ten Championship Game.

Donovan Jackson

  • On the offensive line having three new starters in Simmons, Hinzman and Fryar: “Three new guys – it doesn’t really matter. We have to be on the same page.” Jackson said he trusts the three new starters to “get after it” in practice on Thursday and Friday and in the game on Saturday.
  • Jackson said Indiana “gives us a lot of fronts, a lot of movement,” and added, “They bring guys from everywhere.” Still, Jackson believes that if Ohio State is prepared with its film study and fundamentals, the Buckeyes should be able to handle whatever the Hoosiers throw at them.
  • Jackson said Simmons is “as strong as an ox.” He said Simmons is “picking things up fast” and believes the San Diego State transfer will be ready for his first game in an Ohio State uniform on Saturday.
  • Jackson said he is confident in how Ohio State’s offensive line will perform on Saturday against a Big Ten opponent: “We believe in our training, what we did in the summer, what we’ve done in camp so far.”
  • Jackson said he was “nervous” before his first appearance as a Buckeye against Minnesota in 2021. Jackson said his advice for Simmons, Hinzman and Fryar would be, “Coming into a road environment, you have to band with your brothers. … The 11 guys on the field, that’s all you need.”
  • Jackson said he is excited to play in Ohio State’s first game after weeks of preseason practice. “I’m tired of seeing Tyleik (Williams) across from me. I am ready to see somebody else now.”

TreVeyon Henderson

  • On how he feels to return to the field after his injury: “Shoot, I’m very excited, man. It’s a blessing to finally get back at it. I’m ready to go play to be honest.”
  • Henderson said his goal is to “get back out in space” because he feels that’s where he’s the most dangerous on the field.
  • On having five quality running backs: “It’s great, man. We’re all competitors and we’re all dangerous. All of us can do a lot of great things. It was great getting to compete with them every day in practice and grow that relationship and those bonds. We’re so tight and close, man.”
  • Henderson said he’s been looking forward to Saturday for a long time and realized he didn’t get to play against Indiana last year. “I was just like, dang, it’s finally here. To be back on a football field and be alongside my teammates, it’s a blessing.”
  • Henderson said he remembers Miyan Williams “going off” in the first half against Indiana last year from watching on the sideline.
  • Henderson said he thinks the offense is going to be “great” and that he expects to see that Saturday. “I think we’re ready.”
  • On the offensive line: “They’re a good group. They take care of business up front and are serious about what they do. I’m excited to run behind them Saturday. I ain’t gonna lie, as soon as I got back (on the field), them boys were taking care of business.”
  • On his injuries and having to read internet speculation about it: “It was kind of frustrating for me last year. I just went through a lot of emotions and try to go out there, and there were just rumors of ‘Oh, he’s going through this again’ or ‘Oh, he’s going through this.’ When I was really dealing with just one injury this whole time. At the end of the day, it is what it is.”
  • Henderson said the injury made him lean into his faith, which helped him become a better version of himself.

Xavier Johnson

  • Johnson said “it was definitely surreal” when he found out he was this year’s recipient of the Block O jersey. “I was overcome with emotion. Because everything that I’ve been through with teammates, with guys, I think all that emotion kind of came to the forefront when I heard my name called.”
  • On Kyle McCord earning the starting quarterback job for the season opener: “He showed all of us that he’s capable. Him and Devin (Brown) both showed that they’re very capable. And I think that for him, he’s a guy who he’s a tenacious competitor. And so everything that he’s doing, he’s going out and he’s gonna try to be excellent at.”
  • Johnson said he has participated in a lot of late-night throwing sessions with McCord. He said McCord is a “very precise” thrower.
  • Johnson said he thinks the fact that more players are enrolling early at Ohio State now and that teams are able to do more than they used to be allowed to during offseason workouts have helped Ohio State’s wide receivers become more ready to play as freshmen.
  • On the excitement of starting the season: “We’re excited to finally play somebody who has a different jersey … we’re gonna go out there, put our best foot forward and I think we’re gonna like what we see.”

Lathan Ransom

  • Ransom opened his meeting with the media by saying he’s excited to hit people other than his teammates for a change. “We’ve been banging against each other all camp, it’s been a long month. We can’t wait to play somebody else.”
  • On Indiana’s passing attack: “I think that their whole offense is challenging. They’ve got really wide splits, they’ve got a lot of dynamic players all over the field. Then they get the ball out really fast.”
  • “We’re just playing with a chip on our shoulder. A lot of people outside the Woody (Hayes Athletic Center) got a lot of stuff to say, so we’re just excited for a new challenge and excited to go play.
  • On Malik Hartford: “(He’s) really mature, man. He came in here, handled himself really well, always asked a lot of questions. Really smart. I think that’s what really separates him so early. I’m excited. He learned really quickly and makes a lot of plays on the ball.”
  • Ransom pointed out that, since he’s been at Ohio State, it’s his first time running the same scheme two years in a row. He feels that combined with veteran presence and leadership on the defense has upped everyone’s comfort level on defense.
  • On his biggest focus this offseason: “Stepping into a leadership role, becoming a better leader, then helping bring young guys along like Malik. Then for me, this was the first offseason I really got to lift weights and work on my body, work on myself, work on my nutrition.”
  • Ransom switched from jersey No. 12 to No. 8 this offseason, a change he’d be waiting years to make, he said. “I’ve been wanting eight since I got here, that was my number in high school. The story behind that is, my dad wore No. 4, and I always joked around saying I’d be twice as good as he was.”

Mike Hall

  • Hall feels “pretty good” being back to full health after being injured at the end of last season, and that he’s “back to his old self.”
  • On becoming more of a vocal leader this season: “I’m definitely just getting out of my shell this year. Last year I wasn’t as talkative, but this year I’m trying to cheer my teammates on more, bring that juice to practice and get everybody going because they feed off of it.”
  • Tyleik Williams has been “relentless” running to the ball throughout fall camp, Hall said.
  • Hall’s “passion for the game” is what drives his energetic persona on the field, he said. “You’ve got to find a bigger purpose and when you have that bigger purpose, it allows me to play harder than anybody else.”
  • Hall “knows” that Ohio State’s defense will have success in 2023. “We’re the most relentless defense and we’re going to get to the ball every time.”
  • Tywone Malone’s ability to pass rush has impressed Hall since his arrival from Ole Miss in the transfer portal. “A player his size, to be able to bend and move like that is crazy.”
  • Asked if the defense feels the eyes of the nation on them to see if they’ve taken another step: “That’s what we want. All the pressure, we need it.”
  • Hall dropped from 23 to 19 percent body fat in the offseason, aiding in his pursuit of the ball, he said.
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