It was a little over a year ago that Ohio State head coach Ryan Day hired Justin Frye to take over the Buckeyes’ offensive line. Frye was gifted a handful of All-Big Ten candidates up front, and put them to work on what was eventually a successful season for the Ohio State offense.
Three of the starters from the 2022 squad have now left for the NFL, however, and the depth chart behind returning starters Matt Jones and Donovan Jackson has as many question marks as your average game of Jeopardy.
Lack of recruiting success is one of the reasons why previous offensive line coach Greg Studrawa was let go following the 2021 season. As such, Frye had to hit the recruiting trail running. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the state of Ohio helped out.
Ohio State signed four offensive linemen in the 2023 class, and all four are already enrolled. Ohioans Luke Montgomery, Austin Siereveld, and Joshua Padilla are all four-star prospects. Connecticut tackle Miles Walker is a three-star prospect, but one with the kind of potential that gets offensive line coaches excited.
“I thought Justin did an excellent job,” Day said back on the initial signing day in December. “We have three offensive linemen here from Ohio and also Miles from Connecticut. I really think all three of them have an ability to make an impact right away. These are guys who we’ve had in camp, we’ve seen work live.”
The final signing day is this coming Wednesday, but don’t expect the Buckeyes to add anybody else to this class. The team is now set, at least for the spring. With the uncertainty throughout much of the line, there are jobs and roles that can be won by a young player. What the freshmen show in spring will be a learning experience for both the players and coaches.
“Luke Montgomery, he’s gonna start at tackle,” Day said. “He’s kind of been the leader of this class. He’s got a great personality. He and his family have been unbelievable during this process. But he’s very, very talented. You can see him on the basketball court the way he moves his feet. He’s got toughness and physicality. He could play probably all five positions, but we’re gonna start him at tackle.”
Montgomery is rated the No. 3 interior offensive line prospect in the nation, but the Buckeyes have seen the 6-foot-5, 295-pound Findlay native as a future tackle for a while now.
When asked if Montgomery could contend for a starting job as a true freshman, however, Day cautioned anybody to expect a true freshman to emerge as a starter in 2023.
“I don’t know if I want to put that all on him, but we’re excited to have him in,” he said. “We are. And the fact that he’s coming in mid-year is even more exciting. I think it’s a challenge for a young guy but we’re not going to put it past him to go do it. Looking forward to getting him in here and getting to work.”
Siereveld was an All-State selection at Lakota East in 2022. He is another versatile prospect who could play a number of positions for the Buckeyes, but they already know where he’ll start out.
“Austin Siereveld is going to start at guard for us,” Day said. “A very big and strong and powerful guy. You can see when you get up on him the size of his legs. I think his family said that they can’t find him a pair of pants. So he either wears sweat pants or shorts. That’s how big his thighs are. But he’s very, very powerful and big inside and kind of that road grader you’re looking for at guard.”
Siereveld is the No. 15 interior line prospect in the 2023 class. Four spots ahead of him is Wayne High School’s Joshua Padilla. He was a two-time All-State selection and also the state runner-up as a heavyweight wrestler. Like Siereveld and Montgomery, the coaches know where they’re putting Padilla on day one.
“Josh Padilla is going to start at center for us,” Day said. “This is a guy whose dad is a wrestling coach, he was a wrestler. Has all the traits you’re looking for in a center. The quickness, the ability to leverage the noses and the guys that he’s gonna have to go against every day. And he’s got a toughness about him.”
Toughness and athleticism are a prerequisite for the position. The Buckeyes have lost starting center Luke Wypler to the NFL. Wypler left with two years of eligibility remaining, putting Ohio State in a bit of a pinch. The Buckeyes have already reached into the transfer portal for Vic Cutler out of Louisiana-Monroe who they are hoping will be the solution to the vacancy at center.
The lowest ranked of the four offensive linemen is Miles Walker. In fact, Walker is the lowest-rated member of Ohio State’s recruiting class overall. Who knows, perhaps he can have the same kind of success as past “lowest-ranked signees” Pat Elflein, Da’Von Hamilton, and Dawand Jones.
“Miles is from Brunswick, a school up there in Greenwich, Connecticut, and you look at his length and his athleticism and his size, he’s going to start at tackle for us as well,” Day said. “He brings a lot of potential there. So all four of those guys early on we’re excited about. Hopefully we can get these guys going and make a push.”
Ohio State is looking for three new starters this season, and the two returning starters could very well be in new spots in 2023. This is going to be a big spring in terms of building the 2023 starting offensive line. Even if they don’t win a starting job, the four scholarship freshmen for the Buckeyes up front could very well find themselves one play away from some significant minutes.
The fact that all four linemen are already on campus preparing for that eventuality is big for the Buckeyes, even if it never actually happens.