top of page
Untitled design (47)_edited.jpg

Ohio State Spring Preview: Offensive Line


Justin Frye
© Doral Chenoweth / USA TODAY NETWORK

The one unit where the Ohio State Buckeyes have yet to make a huge splash in the offseason is in the trenches on the offensive side of the ball, but the cupboard isn't completely bare heading into the spring.



The Buckeyes entered spring practice with question marks in offensive line coach Justin Frye's unit due to the inconsistent play all last season. The Ohio State offensive line returns former five-star guard Donovan Jackson, projected to be a 2024 day two or three NFL draft pick due to his inconsistency last season. Jackson has admitted he has yet to reach his full potential and his decision to return was solely on the last play of the game against the Michigan Wolverines.


"I didn't leave my room for days afterward," Jackson said.




Truth be told, Jackson using that last play can be the greatest motivator for himself and the Buckeyes entering a "natty or bust" season. Jackson along with teammates Josh Fryar, Carson Hinzman and Josh Simmons all played in that game last year and return to Ohio State with similar goals—to beat the Wolverines, win a Big Ten Conference championship and compete for a national title.


What does Frye's unit look like entering the spring game and going into fall camp?


Incoming Buckeyes


Ohio State recruits Max Riley, Deonte & Devontae Armstrong
© Lori Schmidt / Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK


Perhaps the biggest bright spot for the offensive line—next to returning four starters from last season—are the incoming freshman. Yes, the Buckeyes return four starters but everyone knows the inconsistency of play can lead many to believe that competition can be the greatest motivator when you have someone younger than you making plays and getting praise. The class of 2024 for Frye was perhaps his best class in his tenure with OSU.


Frye landed highly-ranked, four-star offensive guard Ian Moore out of Indiana who was ranked as the No. 9 offensive guard in the country according to 247sports.com composite. Moore comes to Columbus as an early enrollee with a chance to compete for a spot as a true freshman. The 6-foot-6 guard posses a lot of strengths for a unit who needs to bring back the power run game and can also play tackle if needed. Look for Moore to compete at opposite guard spot of Jackson or compete at either tackle position.


Frye also landed the Armstrong twins (Deontae and Devontae) out of powerhouse St. Edwards High School in Cleveland. The brothers will be leaving St. Edwards as state champions in Division II and as multi-sport athletes. Both Deontae and Devontae are extremely versatile and can play both guard and tackle spots if needed, but primarily played tackle in high school. Devontae and Deonte are currently ranked as three-star prospects according to 247sports.com, but other recruiting sites have them as high as four-star prospects. the brothers were recruited all across the country, including rivals up north, but they stayed committed in state and both were early enrollees. Expect Deontae and Devontae to push competition early but they will most likely not see much playing time this upcoming season. In the future, Deontae and Devontae could be a be a version of the Pouncey twins (Mike and Maurkice) at Florida.



The last prospect of the 2024 recruiting cycle comes from the state up north in Gabe VanSickle. The interior offensive lineman comes to Columbus as a 6-foot-5 guard and is a four-star prospect according to 247sports.com. VanSickle was a late addition to the class of 2024 but will come to Columbus this summer with a chance to push competition with his teammates. VanSickle was highly recruited but chose to come to Columbus with a chance to compete for true playing time as a freshman. Expect VanSickle to push competition as well but not see much playing time, however, his development will be crucial as a freshman as a Buckeye.


Transfer Portal


Seth McLaughlin
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

A surprising addition to the class of 2024 was landing former Alabama center Seth McLaughlin after entering the transfer portal after losing to Michigan in the College Football Playoff. This may have been Frye's biggest addition to date as a coach with the Buckeyes because of the need in the interior line of the line. McLaughlin is known for a few hiccups in the Rose Bowl, but as many know he has been a player for Bama since his freshman year.





Playing more than 35 games for a Nick Saban-led team and getting true snaps as a freshman is not an easy task for any player especially a player up front in the Southeastern Conference. The opportunity to get McLaughlin was exactly what the Buckeyes needed coming into a "natty or bust" season. Expect McLaughlin to win the starting job at either guard or center and be a leader for the unit along with Jackson.


Returning starters



Carson Hinzman and Donovan Jackson
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK


The Buckeyes did return four starters from the previous season in Jackson, Hinzman, Fryar and Josh Simmons. A unit with a lot of inconsistency in play can benefit from four returning linemen with another year of experience and development. The Buckeyes will look to the leader in the group in Jackson who as mentioned earlier, came back with one mindset, to win it all. Hinzman, who started every game last season but the bowl game for unknown reasons, will look to compete with McLaughlin at either center or a guard spot.



At the tackle spots, Fryar and Simmons return for the Buckeyes but are hoping to improve on their inconsistent play. At one point in the season last season the Buckeyes led the country in false starts which mainly came from the tackle position. Fryar and Simmons will be pushed in competition this season not only due to the talent behind them, but also due to the fact they are returning starters and will be expected to take a big jump in performance. This is a huge spring for development and progression for Fryar and Simmons, look for them to solidify their positions at the tackle spots.


Offensive Linemen In the mix


Tegra Tshabola
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK


A few names that have made the headlines in Columbus out of spring ball that are pushing for playing time this fall are Luke Montgomery, Josh Padilla, Tegra Tshabola and George Fitzpatrick.





Montgomery came to Columbus as a four-star prospect from Findlay High School in Findlay. A member of the class of 2023, Montgomery is pushing for either the guard or tackle position this spring. It was even noted that during bowl prep this past season, Montgomery could have been ready if his name was called upon. Look for Montgomery to get playing time even if he is not listed as a starter.


Tshabola was a massive get for the Buckeyes in the class of 2022. Tshabola has paid his dues and has developed into a tackle prospect for NFL scouts when his time comes. Tshabola was a four-star prospect from West Chester and is listed at 6-foot-5 and 344 pounds. He was ranked the No. 36 prospect overall in the class of 2022 according to 247sports.com and many expect Tshabola to beat out either Simmons or Fryar this upcoming season. The All-American recruit was pushing for playing time this past season already and saw some flashes. If Fryar or Simmons cannot stay consistent, look for Tshabola to win the job at either tackle spots.


Padilla is another Ohio-born and raised prospect from Dayton. The interior offensive lineman came to Columbus in the class of 2022 and is listed at 6-foot-3 and 293 pounds and was a four-star prospect according to 247sports.com. Padilla has yet to make any noise as a young prospect but he will push for an interior spot in the fall. Padilla is making noise thus far in the spring but will continue to develop for Frye's group and will push competition.


Fitzpatrick is another member of the class of 2022 but out of Colorado. Fitzpatrick, a 6-foot-6 four-star lineman according to 247sports.com, was another big get for the Buckeyes at the time. Fitzpatrick, much like Tshabola, has put in his time for development and is ready to compete for playing time in Columbus. Look for Fitzpatrick to push either Fryar or Simmons for the tackle job this spring leading into the fall. Fitzpatrick is another tackle prospect with good size and frame for the position and can solidify the position when called upon. If he is not able to win the job, look for Fitzpatrick to still get playing time this season.


As much fun as it will be to watch the skill positions this spring, the offensive line will be worth watching as well. Keep an eye out for key players listed above and where they are moved on the depth chart leading into the fall. Don't expect anyone to be named a true starter until the fall due to the spring transfer portal period, but it will be one thing to watch for if any offensive linemen do intend to transfer after the spring game on April 13.




Comments


Untitled design (54).png
bottom of page