Ryan Day Says Ohio State Will Consider Adding Offensive Line Help in Spring Transfer Window

By Andy Anders on April 11, 2024 at 11:58 am
Ryan Day

The right side of Ohio State’s offensive line remains in open competition entering the Buckeyes’ final spring practice Friday and ensuing spring game on Saturday.

Entering the team’s March and April training sessions, there seemed to be confidence from Ryan Day that Ohio State could find what it needed up front by evaluating what it had in-house. Now, he’s not ruling out a venture into the transfer portal to shore up the Buckeyes’ offensive line.

“I think we have to look at everything,” Day said Wednesday. “I’m not gonna sit here and say one way or the other. I’d like to watch the film today, we did a couple of (things), moved some guys around to see how that went. Then see how Saturday goes and then go from there. But I can’t sit here and tell you that I know that right side is solidified right now, so I think we’ve gotta keep looking at all options.”

The head coach isn’t demanding definitive answers just yet. He reiterated on Wednesday that spring is about player development first and foremost, then the chemistry elements of figuring out one cohesive offensive line can be settled later.

But – specifically at right guard – he’s not confident that the development is where it needs to be as of the final week of spring practice.

“We need to continue to see that, but we are seeing that across the board,” Day said. “The biggest thing is that right side, our right guard position and that battle as things have gone on – we’ve moved Seth (McLaughlin) and Carson (Hinzman) both there, we’ve used Luke (Montgomery), we’ve tried Tegra (Tshabola) inside, so we’ve used a bunch of different combinations. I think, by the end of this week, we need to at least identify where we’re going and where it projects at, even if (the competition) continues into the preseason, which it may.”

Montgomery has been the man taking first-team reps at right guard during practices open to the media, a development that made sense given his top-100 recruiting pedigree and usage in a handful of spots as a sixth offensive lineman in 2023.

He is still just a sophomore at a position that is among the most developmental in all of football, though, and it’s clear from Day’s comments that he hasn’t grabbed hold of the job just yet.

Day and offensive line coach Justin Frye have continued experimenting throughout spring. That includes some work with last year’s starting right tackle, Josh Fryar, inside at guard. A move to the interior seemed worth looking into given Fryar’s struggles blocking speed off the edge last year and his overall strength and punch in the run game. 

At this stage, however, Ohio State is still looking at Fryar primarily as a tackle.

“Josh has played some right guard for us this spring to see what that would look like. As Tegra moved out there (to tackle), we’ve tried some different combinations,” Day said. “I think Josh could play both positions, but we do feel confident with him right now playing at tackle.”

“I think we have to look at everything. I’m not gonna sit here and say one way or the other.”– Ryan Day on if Ohio State could add another offensive lineman through the portal

Much of the reason Day feels Ohio State can stick with Fryar at right tackle is because of his offseason improvements. In response to concerns about facing speed off the edge, Fryar’s gotten leaner and worked with the top crop of Ohio State’s defensive ends to fine-tune his game.

“I think Josh Fryar has really changed his body,” Day said. “His body fat’s down. That’s something, his diet and everything, we really hammered this offseason. I think that was significant in how quickly his feet are moving because he’s very sharp in what he does. And he’s bending better.”

Fryar’s counterpart, left tackle Josh Simmons, has made strides in his own critical areas, ones that go beyond his physical tools.

“For Josh Simmons, that was never an issue, although he is in great shape,” Day said. “I think it’s more of the experience and understanding of the offense, playing more football and the mental part of it. So I think both guys have benefitted from another year, but both for different reasons.”

Those aren’t the only parts of the offensive line where Day said he’s seen significant development. Left guard Donovan Jackson, McLaughlin (the Buckeyes' lone portal acquisition on the offensive line to date) and Hinzman are all progressing.

“I feel like both tackles have really improved. It’s noticeable,” Day said. “Donovan has improved, his leadership has been felt out there. I do think that Seth and Carson have both had good springs as well. So I really want to see if someone can take the next step in that right guard position, however that all shakes out.”

Whether or not Ohio State goes after another transfer to provide that next step or stays patient with its pieces that are already in-house could very well be decided in the Buckeyes’ spring game on Saturday. At the very least, it will be one more data point as Day and company choose the best direction forward up front.

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