Whether At Tackle or Guard, Josh Fryar Shooting For Higher Standard in Second Year Starting

By Andy Anders on May 27, 2024 at 10:10 am
Josh Fryar

As of now, Josh Fryar is set to start again for Ohio State in 2024.

That much is clear. There’s been no indication of his removal from the starting lineup and – while he had his rough moments in 2023 – there’s a reason Fryar landed first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and third-team honors from the coaches.

Not as clear is whether he’ll be the team’s right tackle or right guard. It seems likely that it’ll be the former, where he started last year, started the spring game and took the majority of his reps this spring. But right guard is still a possibility.

“We know that Josh can play right tackle and he’s done that before,” Day said after the spring game. “Always want to find the best five. We feel like Josh is one of our best five, if we could figure that part of it out, that’d be great. He has played a little bit of guard but he’s also played tackle.”

Regardless, as he enters his second campaign as a starter, Fryar is trying to build off a year that wasn’t up to his “standard,” find a bigger competitive edge in practice and avoid overthinking down to down.

“I think experience is the biggest key,” Fryar said in April. “I think (left guard Donovan Jackson) can attest to it too, that first year (starting) is kind of rough and then that second year, you get a little bit more (comfortable). Now third year he’s going to have it down pat. But now I feel like I’m having it down pat (also).”

Pro Football Focus grades can provide varying gauges of a player’s performance, but Fryar led all of Ohio State’s offensive linemen with a run-blocking grade of 76 last season. That holds up with an outside observer’s review of his game, as Fryar showcased punch and physicality on the ground.

Lapses in pass protection, where he ranked third on the line at 68.7 and gave up five sacks with 13 pressures, put a stain on his first starting campaign.

“I don’t think it was to my standard,” Fryar said of his 2023 season. “I thought I was thinking too much and not playing. I’ve deleted my social media, I’ve got other people who control my social media now so I don’t do any of that.”

There’s a reason Fryar deleted all his social media.

The unfortunate truth of being a college football player in the modern age is that the worst types of fans – a minority with a loud voice – can be hateful and cross lines. For Fryar, not even those close to him were safe from such loons when mistakes on the field were made.

“Last year was a learning curve for me starting,” Fryar said. “It’s kind of crazy to see the response you get from people when you have a bad season, I guess you could say. The defensive ends (giving you some issues), everyone trying to talk to you, saying you suck, you’re the worst offensive tackle, commenting on my girlfriend’s posts and it’s Ohio State fans. It’s crazy to see but at the same time, I understand their passion for us to win.”

Fryar is perhaps more understanding about it than others would be. It might stem from the flaws he sees in his play – he called his Cotton Bowl performance “disgusting” – but it also doesn’t excuse such behavior.

Regardless, Fryar is addressing what he sees as the sources of his shortcomings. That starts with his aforementioned tendency to overthink plays.

“I think it just comes with more of watching the game, breaking it down in the film room,” Fryar said of how to work on it. “Then on the field when you’re playing, you’re just constantly going through it and then just play. Like, if this happens, I don’t care. Just go and go hard.”

“On the field when you’re playing, you’re just constantly going through it and then just play. Like, if this happens, I don’t care. Just go and go hard.”– Josh Fryar on how to avoid overthinking on the football field

The two-word phrase that closes the above quote encapsulates Fryar’s motto for this offseason.

“For me, it was just go hard the whole entire time, no matter what,” Fryar said. “Competitions, lose, win, draw, just go hard and try to beat everybody I can.”

That’s another shift for him from years past, he added, when a lack of experience left him simply trying to gather his bearings. With that increased drive for maximum effort is a decreased need for thought in-play.

“I think now I’ve got a better grasp of strength and conditioning, the football part of it and just everything,” Fryar said. “I think I’m well-rounded in that to where I don’t have to think about it, I just go.”

Fryar himself didn’t indicate a strong preference between guard and tackle, and offensive line coach Justin Frye went so far as to say that Fryar could play “all five” offensive line positions.

Wherever he ends up, Fryar will aim to tune out his self-doubts post-snap to tune up his play and prove he can be the offensive lineman Ohio State needs him to be as one of its best five.

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