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Projecting Buckeyes depth chart on deep, talented offensive line

Spencer Holbrook06/15/21
Paris Johnson 4 by Birm-Lettermen Row
Paris Johnson will be part of a talented Ohio State offensive line. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The summer offseason is in full swing, and Lettermen Row is trying to survive it with our annual Position Week breakdowns. By the time all nine units at Ohio State have been covered, training camp and media days will nearly have arrived — and the return of football in the Horseshoe will be just around the corner. Let’s continue Offensive Line Week with a depth chart projection.

COLUMBUS — Ohio State was dangerously thin at offensive line when Ryan Day took over as head coach.

Just two offseasons ago when Day took the whistle from Urban Meyer, the offensive line was talented. But depth was certainly a chief concern inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

Fast forward two years. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, Day and the entire coaching staff have built one of the deepest and most talented offensive line units in all of college football. The room, two years in the making, has become one of the strongest and most versatile on the best roster in the Big Ten.

“I think we have really good depth,” Day said this spring. “We have a good group in that room. I think Stud has done a really good job recruiting. We have different shapes and sizes, have some versatility in there. We have over 20 guys in that room with walk-ons and scholarship guys.

“We have to continue to develop some of the guys in there, and we’ve developed some guys into being good players. It’s fun to see where that’s headed this year, because I think we have a chance to have a really good room.”

Some in the room will still need time to develop. Some are ready to push for a bigger role as the starting five begins to take shape late in the offseason. Who will be given a starting nod? Who is next up if the Buckeyes suffer injury or attrition? Lettermen Row is breaking down how the Ohio State offensive line depth chart might play out this fall.

Projected Ohio State starters

LT Thayer Munford: College football programs rarely have a fourth-year starter on the offensive line — especially at left tackle. Ohio State has just that this fall, though. Thayer Munford returns to the lineup as one of the most experienced offensive linemen in the country. ProFootball Focus’s top returning tackle in the country, Munford has a chance to cement himself as a first-round pick next spring in the NFL draft. He’s expected to have a huge season as an anchor for the Buckeyes.

Luke Wypler-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Luke Wypler has a chance to claim a starting job on the Ohio State offensive line. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Harry Miller and Luke Wypler: Ohio State has a long-standing history of dominance at the center position, and that should be upheld this fall with either Harry Miller or Luke Wypler. Miller was projected to be the center of the future when he was recruited out of Georgia in 2019, but he played well at guard last season and could find a home there rather than at center. Wypler, also a center out of high school, took a bulk of the spring reps at center as Miller worked through an injury. Ohio State wants the best five linemen on the field. Miller and Wypler should both start. But it remains to be seen at which position they’ll take the field.

RG Paris Johnson: This was not the plan for Paris Johnson. The former five-star recruit and generational prospect came to Ohio State to compete for a tackle spot early in his career. But as Munford and Petit-Frere return for one more year, Johnson has a chance to prove his versatility on the inside before sliding back outside to dominate at tackle in the coming seasons. He’ll likely start at right guard — and he’ll likely do just fine in that spot.

Nicholas Petit Frere-Wyatt Davis-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Nicholas Petit-Frere is one of the top returning tackles in college football. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

RT Nicholas Petit-Frere: On the other side of the offensive line, Nicholas Petit-Frere became a solidified starter last fall and was certainly impressive in doing so. He rarely allowed pressure and now makes up half of the top returning tackle duo in the country. After years of development and adding weight, he’s finally where he needs to be. The highest-ranked offensive line commit in Ohio State history has a chance to also become a first-round pick with a dominant fourth season in the football program.

Next up for Buckeyes

G Matthew Jones: When Ohio State needed a backup interior offensive lineman last season, Matthew Jones filled in and excelled. He started multiple games for the Buckeyes last season and was impressive. Jones could become a surprise starter this fall with a good training camp. Even if he is a backup, he’ll be valuable for Ohio State this fall with his experience and ability. And he’ll likely be needed to step in and contribute at some point — just like last season.

Dawand Jones-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Dawand Jones is pushing for playing time at Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

T Dawand Jones: The massive third-year player is proving far more versatile than many expected when he came to Ohio State. At 6-foot-8 and 350 pounds, Dawand Jones looks like a tackle but has shown he can play both there and at guard. He’ll be a part of the two-deep, and his versatility allows him a chance to become a contributor this season for the Buckeyes. Wherever he will he be needed, he’ll play — and the Buckeyes will be deeper as a unit because of Jones.

G Josh Fryar: One of the surprises of spring, Josh Fryar seems to be making a huge push. Fryar took reps with the first-team offensive line in spring practice and has a chance to pull off an upset for a starting guard spot with an impressive training camp. A former three-star recruit, Fryar appeared to be a developmental depth option when he was recruited. Now he is shooting up the depth chart and gunning for a role in his second Ohio State season.

G Donovan Jackson: The jewel of the 2021 offensive line haul, Donovan Jackson didn’t enroll early and just arrived on campus in the last few weeks. But he has already looked impressive in workouts and has proven he can contribute early in his career. The five-star prospect could be a part of the two-deep as a true freshman. And he might just make a push to play this fall.

Work to do

G Enokk Vimahi: One of the last additions to the 2019 recruiting class, Vimahi put off a planned two-year religious mission to stay at Ohio State and work to become a contributor. Now entering Year Three with the program, Vimahi still must prove he can do just that. This fall is a big one for Enokk Vimahi.

Ryan Jacoby-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Ohio State offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby has been in the program for a long time. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

T Ryan Jacoby: A former four-star recruit from in-state Mentor High School, Jacoby hasn’t been able to make a push up the depth chart in his first two seasons on campus. With a good fall camp, he could find himself in the two-deep at one of the tackle slots.

G/C Jakob James: Ohio State loves versatile offensive linemen who can play multiple positions. Jakob James appears to be just that. He took reps at center this spring while Harry Miller was out and has turned some heads. He still has work to do, but the second-year former three-star recruit has a chance to begin his ascent up the depth chart this fall.

Trey Leroux-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Trey Leroux is still developing for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

T Trey Leroux: One of six offensive linemen in the 2020 class, Leroux continues to progress in his development. He is the lowest-ranked non-kicker prospect to sign with the Buckeyes since 2016, but he is still working hard to prove that ranking was wrong and has lost at least 60 pounds since arriving on campus. He’ll have a chance later in his career, but he certainly is committed to transforming his body and becoming a factor.

T Grant Toutant: Another member of the 2020 class of offensive linemen at Ohio State, Toutant hasn’t entered the mix for playing time during lone pandemic-shortened season. He’ll have a full offseason and regular schedule to make a push for the future.

G Ben Christman: One of the first five players to commit to the Buckeyes in the 2021 class, Christman enrolled early and began his Ohio State career in January. The Buckeyes have plenty of depth and talent at guard this season, but Christman will likely play a factor in the depth chart in the coming seasons. He is certainly talented enough to do so.

T Zen Michalski: A late addition to the 2021 class, Michalski flipped to the Buckeyes after being a long-time commit to Louisville. Michalski enrolled early to get a head start on his freshman season, but with the loaded Ohio State depth chart, he’ll likely need a year or two before beginning a push for playing time.