Jamarco Jones would be the first to admit that waiting around for two seasons before getting an opportunity for any sort of significant playing time at Ohio State was difficult.
“It’s been tough,” the Buckeyes’ junior offensive lineman said Thursday. “Everybody wants to play as much as they can, but that just wasn’t my path. I had great players in front of me so I just used that to learn from those guys and be prepared for what I do get my chance.”
A once highly-touted recruit — Jones was a four-star prospect, the nation’s No. 4-ranked tackle and No. 58 overall player in the 2014 class, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings — Jones played a backup role for his first two seasons in Columbus. There was a reason for that, of course, as Ohio State had a three-year starter in Taylor Decker at one tackle spot and, at the other, were a pair of fifth-year seniors with Darryl Baldwin at right tackle in 2014 and Chase Farris in 2015.
So, Jones waited. And even though he admits it was frustrating at times to sit, Jones says he used the majority of those first two seasons to work to improve rather than sulk because he wasn’t playing.
“I’ve been training for two years and Taylor, Darryl and Chase, they’ve helped me prepare for this moment to be able to step in when it’s my time,” Jones said.
Now, with Farris and Decker both out of the equation — Decker is likely to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft — Jones’ time is now. He has been working as Ohio State’s first-team left tackle all spring and new position coach Greg Studrawa said he has been pleased with Jones’ output through the Buckeyes’ first seven practices of spring ball.
“I’m really pleased with Isaiah [Prince] and Jamarco at the tackle spots,” Studrawa said.
Decker was back at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Thursday working for the upcoming NFL Draft. Any time he can, Jones said Decker is helping to groom his replacement. And even when Decker was still playing at Ohio State, Jones picked up some things that he hopes will help him on the field this fall.
“He’s a great player, he’s going to be a first-round draft pick so just watching him and what he does, his routine, how he grinds in the weight room and in practice and everything like that,” Jones said. ”All of those things he’s helped me with a lot.”
The Buckeyes’ offensive line is certainly a work in progress this spring — “The D-line is the area of most concern in our program, but I think that shifts a little bit to the O-line now,” head coach Urban Meyer said recently — as Ohio State looks to replace those three starters. That was pretty apparent during Saturday’s open practice as the Buckeyes’ offensive line struggled a bit practicing without Pat Elflein and Billy Price.
But despite that, Studrawa says he feels ‘solid’ with where Ohio State’s offensive line is currently at — halfway through spring practice — with the exception of the one open guard position. That means he’s comfortable with Jones at left tackle.
Jones was the Buckeyes’ “sixth man” up front a year ago as a sophomore and would have been the first guy into the mix had one of the five starters suffered an injury. It appears he’s well on his way to becoming a full-time starter this fall.
The two years of waiting are about to pay off.
“I feel like I’m prepared .... so I don’t really feel pressure,” Jones said. “I feel I’m prepared for this.”