In his first year, Ryan Day put together the best offensive line in Columbus since the 2014 or 2015 season. During those two years, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 3,699 yards and 41 touchdowns, and Ohio State won the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship.
In the years since, the Buckeyes never put together a group of five that quite resembled that line.
Day pretty much had to start from scratch, since four of the five starters left to pursue professional careers.
The only returning starter from 2018 was LT Thayer Munford. Rutgers transfer Jonah Jackson plugged right into left guard to bring a veteran duo to Fields’ blind side. Then, Day installed first year starters Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis at center and right guard, respectively. To finish things off, he put veteran Branden Bowen at RT, playing for the first time since suffering a brutal injury in 2018.
This group paved the way for an elite offense, rushing for 267 yards per game, gaining 530 total yards per game, and scoring seven touchdowns per game.
Ohio State Offensive Line Position Breakdown
The fortunate thing is that Ohio State will have to replace fewer starters in 2020. Only Jackson and Bowen are leaving, so the core of this line will be even more experienced than they were a year ago.
Vested veteran Munford will be a senior, and will presumably continue on at LT.
Day broke the traditional Urban Meyer practice of moving a returning guard to center, since there were none left on the roster. Myers one of the only first-year starters at center in recent memory, but continues the tradition of an Ohio native playing the position.
Davis will also return and look to build on a solid 2019. The media named him First Team All-Big Ten and many media outlets named him First Team All-American. All things considered, Ohio State is lucky he didn’t leave after his redshirt sophomore season.
All three returning linemen received All-Big Ten second place votes, so they are already bringing experience into the 2020 season.
In 2020, the Buckeyes will have to fill one guard spot and one tackle spot.
Replacing the tackle spot seems easy enough, as Nicholas Petit-Frere will most likely take it. Petit-Frere was the backup tackle for both Munford and Bowen in 2019, so he will be able to slide into RT easily. At 6’5” and 305 lbs, Petit-Frere will be a redshirt sophomore.
His only problem is his inexperience, which exposed him at times during last season. He has the talent and size that coaches look for, but an off-season of work can help correct that.
One player that will be competing with him for that spot will be Paris Johnson Jr. The Cincinnati native was the nation’s #1 tackle in the 2020 recruiting class according to 247Sports.com. He’s not the kind of player they would want to use a redshirt on, so if he doesn’t steal the starting job he will still get plenty of opportunities to play.
While the tackle spots seem locked up, the guard spots are more uncertain.
Davis will return to his regular RG role, but what about LG?
The backup guards from last season make a strong case. Redshirt sophomore Matthew Jones and redshirt freshman Enokk Vimahi were both heavily recruited and seem like they would be natural fits in the new offensive line.
It’s easy to see Miller starting at LG, then moving to center if Myers gets injured. Jones will probably be the first interior lineman off the bench, with Vimahi being the second backup guard.
Don’t Forget About…
The last two recruiting classes have brought in boatloads of talent. While the wide receivers have been getting a lot of attention, the new crop of offensive linemen are just as star-studded.
This will be an important year of development for them, because four of the five projected starters will be draft eligible next spring.
Jacoby was named one of the most improved players from winter conditioning, so he should get some looks before the season starts. Chances are that the redshirt freshman will have to settle for a backup role for now.
Sophomore Jones is a physical freak at 6-9, 359 lbs. There is a log jam at tackle, but he makes plays when he needs to. Because of his size and passion, he is a lot of fun to watch.
The significant members of the 2020 class are Johnson and Luke Wypler. He is on the smaller side at only 6’3”, 295 lbs, so a redshirt might be in the cards. According to 247sports.com, Wypler was the #1 player coming out of New Jersey, #2 center in the nation, and #3 guard in the nation. Should the Buckeyes lose most of their interior lineman next year, Wypler will be the replacement.
The Buckeyes have a strong base to build upon, and they have the youth to keep their momentum strong. The Ohio State offensive line could be just as dominant as they were a year ago.