There is a four-man battle currently going on for one of Ohio State’s starting guard spots between Evan Lisle, Demetrius Knox, Matt Burrell and Michael Jordan. The other four positions along the Buckeyes’ offensive line, however, are almost solidified, according to first-year line coach Greg Studrawa.
“I would say they’re solid, those guys are doing well,” Studrawa said after practice Thursday morning, Ohio State’s seventh of the spring.
We all knew Pat Elflein would be the starting center and Billy Price would have one of the guard spots. What we weren’t sure of, in addition to the open guard spot, was which two guys would replace Taylor Decker and Chase Farris at tackle.
Jamarco Jones, a junior, and sophomore Isaiah Prince were the frontrunners and as the Buckeyes are near the midway point of spring ball, that hasn’t changed.
“I’m really pleased with Isaiah and Jamarco at the tackle spots,” Studrawa said.
All spring, it has been Jones working the first team at left tackle while Prince reps at right tackle. That seems to be the way things are going to stay going forward. Prince, at 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds, might be the more prototypical left tackle, but the staff likes the experience of Jones on that side, even though the junior from Chicago may fit the mold more of a right tackle at 6-5 and 310 pounds.
“Right now, that’s all we’ve heard so we’re just practicing like that,” Jones said. “[Left tackle] is just what I came in playing; I feel most comfortable at left tackle. I’m a pretty good pass protector so I feel like I’m good at the left tackle spot.”
But while Studrawa says he feels comfortable with both Prince and Jones as Ohio State’s starting tackles it is important to remember the Buckeyes will be getting Malcolm Pridgeon on campus in June, and the junior college transfer absolutely figures to be in the running for one of those positions.
“We don’t recruit a junior college guy to sit,” head coach Urban Meyer said back on National Signing Day when Ohio State landed Pridgeon.
Pridgeon will be a bit behind when he arrives on campus so it will take a strong fall camp performance to unseat either Prince or Jones from their starting spot. But the point here is that even though Prince and Jones are currently the Buckeyes’ starters, and Studrawa feels comfortable with both, it’s far from a done deal at this point.
For now, though, Studrawa is working with what he’s got. And the best five Ohio State has this spring pits Prince at right tackle and Jones at left tackle with a group of guys rotating in at the open guard spot.
“I feel like if you can get that cohesion down like if everybody knows where they’re playing you get to know who you’re next to and things like that,” Jones said. “That can help, and later in the season we’ll be a more cohesive unit.”
The Buckeyes have plenty of time to build up that cohesion as we’re only in April and the first game of the season isn’t until September. Studrawa believes his unit is headed in the right direction.
“They’re all working and they’re all talented guys,” he said. “You want to build a starting five that’s a great group, but you also want to build depth and have guys that can go in there.
“I’d love it to be easy, but right now it’s not.”