When Ohio State convened for its team portion of practice Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, one noticeable change in its offensive line became the talk of its sixth installment of the spring.
True freshman and early enrollee Michael Jordan trotted out of the huddle with the first-team offense at left guard.
"He just loves it," head coach Urban Meyer said after practice of the 6-foot-7, 316-pound freshman from Canton, Michigan. "He doesn't know if it’s right or left sometimes, but at this point, we don't care."
That's the point Meyer and his staff hope to stress to the 2016 edition of the Ohio State Buckeyes as the calendar readies to flip from March to April and the annual spring game sits on the horizon. It doesn't matter if you screw up a drill or miss a blocking assignment, as long as you do it as hard as you possibly can.
According to Meyer, the 18-year-old Jordan understands just that.
"Come in for extra work, enjoy the game, enjoy the practice — he's done all that," Meyer said. "Really impressed with him."
With redshirt junior and soon-to-be three-year starter Billy Price working at right guard and fifth-year senior captain Pat Elflein shifting from guard to center, there remains a significant vacancy on the interior of Ohio State's offensive line this spring. Tackles Chase Farris and Taylor Decker also graduated, part of a hefty turnover the offense endured following a 12-1 season a year ago.
“Whoever plays that position, we can't drop off. Went from (Andrew) Norwell, Marcus Hall to Billy Price and Pat Elflein. We're not going to drop off.”– Urban Meyer
And, it puts the onus on new offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
"Whoever plays that position, we can't drop off," Meyer said. "Went from (Andrew) Norwell, Marcus Hall to Billy Price and Pat Elflein. We're not going to drop off."
That is loads of talent, considering Norwell started in Super Bowl 50 for the Carolina Panthers in February and Price and Elflein can definitely play at the next level. Hall earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2013 when the Buckeyes set a program record with 6.8 yards per rush.
Decker is a likely first round pick next month, so there are big shoes to fill by the offensive linemen who sat behind him and others for two seasons.
"Isaiah Prince is doing better and better and so is Jamarco Jones," Meyer said. "Kind of solidified that. The backup tackles, we moved (Brandon) Bowen out there. He's doing OK."
Jones and Prince worked with the first team in the portion Ohio State allowed the media to watch practice Tuesday morning, but even they will have competition on the outside this fall once junior college transfer and 2016 commitment Malcolm Pridgeon arrives from New York.
Meyer also mentioned sophomore Demetrius Knox as "close" and junior Evan Lisle as "doing OK," with the former rolling his ankle during Saturday's scrimmage.
Meyer constantly prods the idea that Ohio State is "an offensive line-driven program." After the exit of three starters and Silver Football winner Ezekiel Elliott, work remains before kickoff against Bowling Green at Ohio Stadium Sept. 3.
"We're still trying to find that starting five," Meyer said.