“Nobody Cares” Attitude Driving Tegra Tshabola Forward in Ohio State's Right Guard Competition

By Andy Anders on May 20, 2024 at 10:56 am
Tegra Tshabola

Tegra Tshabola’s approach this offseason has been one of indifference.

Not indifference in terms of apathy, that’s not something the third-year offensive lineman can afford as he competes for a starting job along the right side of Ohio State’s front five.

His indifference is toward the excuses he could make for himself on a given day. As cliché as it may sound, Tshabola says it's a daily commitment to set aside whatever negative feelings he may have and attack each workout, each practice and each film session.

“Nobody cares how you feel. Nobody cares where you think you should be. Nobody cares what you’re going through,” Tshabola said in April. “Just take the field and go as hard as you can because too many people are invested in you to not go hard. Too many people are invested in everybody on this field. There are many steps that had to take place for us to get here. To not go hard is almost a disrespect to those guys.”

Right in the thick of Ohio State’s right guard competition alongside Carson Hinzman and Luke Montgomery entering the fall, the 327-pound Tshabola is attempting to plow ahead full force and stake claim to the starting job.

“He’s competing his butt off. He’s kind of living that way,” offensive line coach Justin Frye said. “That’s why we have that red line over there. When you cross the line, and Coach Day talks about that here, the game doesn’t care. You have to come out and do your job. The game doesn’t care about anything off the field. That can sound negative and harsh, but then if you spin your tone, isn’t it beautiful that the game doesn’t care? It doesn’t care about your skin color, your socioeconomic background or where you come from. If you do it the right way, the game will love you back. … For Tegra, he’s taken that approach. He wants to come in and be the guy.”

Set to enter his third fall with the Buckeyes, 2024 marks a second shot at a position competition for Tshabola. He squared off with Zen Michalski for a starting right tackle job in spring 2023 before Josh Simmons transferred in from San Diego State to start opposite Josh Fryar.

Montgomery appeared to have an edge over Hinzman and Tshabola at the start of spring practice with the latter factoring in at tackle, but as March and April progressed Tshabola inserted himself in the interior battle.

“I’m doing my best to get to where I need to be to be able to help this team,” Tshabola said.

In a development that was perhaps indicative of where things stand this summer for the right guard battle, Hinzman played 45 snaps in the spring game, Montgomery played 44 and Tshabola played 43. Hinzman and Tshabola ate up all the reps with the first-team offensive line, which only saw three series.

Tshabola also mixed in as a right tackle on the second unit. Montgomery did not see first-team action.

“I’m very confident in my ability and all I can do is just take the field and try to get better day by day,” Tshabola said. “That’s with coaching, that’s with drills, that’s with applying the meeting to the field.”

"The game doesn’t care about anything off the field. ... For Tegra, he’s taken that approach."– Justin Frye

Tshabola’s excuseless attitude came to the forefront this offseason more than any previous, he said.

“It’s definitely something newer. I’ve always had that on my mind, but definitely something I’ve held myself to this year,” Tshabola said.

With his frame and feet Tshabola has the physical makings of a quality guard or tackle, even at a program with standards as high as Ohio State’s. The mental side of the game is where he needs to put in the most work, 

“I’m gifted with size and strength and athleticism. It’s all just in here,” Tshabola said, pointing to his head. “Making sure I can be consistent, making sure I can take command and making sure I can get the job done, because the coaches and myself, I think I have the ability to.”

The goal for the Buckeyes is to put their best five offensive linemen on the field, develop cohesion and develop the personnel to a place where it’s not costing the team in big spots like last year’s Cotton Bowl. New offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, known for elevating offensive line play with his run schemes, and two elite tailbacks in TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins should relieve some pressure from those pursuits.

“Best five” was the mantra of Frye and Ryan Day when it came to sorting out the front five this spring. Come fall, with his indifferent attitude, Tshabola will see if he can make that cut.

“I don’t think we’re there right now, but again, kind of watch this film and then go back, evaluate the entire spring and see where to go from there,” Day said after the spring game.

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