Josh Fryar Ohio State Buckeyes Left Tackle

Offensive Line A Major Concern, But Ryan Day Likes The Pieces

Fear of the unknown is what keeps coaches awake at night, and when it comes to this year’s edition of the Ohio State Buckeyes, one of the top concerns for head coach Ryan Day lies with the offensive line.

The Buckeyes must replace two starting tackles and a starting center from last year. As situations go on the offensive line, it’s not exactly ideal.

“Your concern is guys who haven’t played, guys that don’t have the experience,” Day said Wednesday at Big Ten Media Days.

Ohio State is returning starting guards Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones, both of whom have All-Big Ten potential. Fourth-year junior Josh Fryar was the No. 1 left tackle in the spring, and he performed well enough to keep the job throughout. That doesn’t mean it’s settled, but it’s definitely more settled than the situation at right tackle.

Following a spring competition at right tackle between redshirt freshman Tegra Tshabola and redshirt sophomore Zen Michalski, the Buckeyes went into the transfer portal to land San Diego State redshirt sophomore Josh Simmons, who was the Aztecs’ starting right tackle in 2022.

“The two guards have played, and the two tackles and the center haven’t,” Day explained. “Now, I’m excited about some of our options there. Josh Fryar looks good, he cut weight. He’s doing better. We also added Josh Simmons, who prefers to be called Jimmy, by the way. We’ll have to call him Jimmy Simmons. [True freshman] Luke Montgomery has been in the mix. He had a really good summer. We have Vic Cutler we’ve added. We have some good pieces there. They just haven’t played.”

The offseason has been critical for the group as a whole as they get stronger, more nimble, and build the chemistry that is so critical for any successful offensive line.

“I think we have enough people there we feel good we can find that, but they have to go do it,” Day said. “That’s obviously something that we’ve got to make sure we’re focused on.”

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At center, redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman was a bit of a surprise, starting out with the ones at the beginning of spring camp, and staying there throughout. His understanding of the offense and the line calls impressed offensive line coach Justin Frye. He showed enough in the spring to give the Buckeyes confidence that he could handle the job this year, should he win it.

“Oh, yeah, yeah, Carson is competing to be the starting center. He’s had a very good offseason,” Day said. “He’s very talented. Has the athleticism, has the intelligence, does not have the experience. But he’s a guy that we projected to have an opportunity to start this year. He’s gonna have to go earn a spot. He hasn’t earned it yet. But there’s a lot of things that lead us to believe he can do that. And we’re going to need him to. We’re going to need some guys to step up on the offensive line and Carson has a bright future ahead of him.”

Ohio State is also breaking in a new starting quarterback this season, so the better the offensive line is, the better the quarterback situation will go. The Buckeyes have the skill talent to make any quarterback happy, but it will be up to the offensive line to give everybody else time to make plays happen.

Fall camp will be the final step in determining who the top five Buckeyes are on the offensive line. There is still plenty of work to do, which is why the starting five is still very much up in the air. More information is needed, but August will essentially be a daily news dump of data.

“I think it’s still undecided,” Day said. “For Josh, he’s just getting here. So we need to see what we’ve got on the field. We don’t know. We see a lot of talent, but Ohio State’s different. This is a different offense. Everything about it’s different. So we need to see that, although we’re encouraged by what we see. And Tegra has done some good things in the offseason, and then Luke Montgomery, I’ve been very impressed with him. So we have some good candidates there. But now they gotta go compete and it’s gonna come down to what they look like in the preseason. So there’s no more waiting around. They gotta go.”

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