Dallan Hayden Matt Jones Kyle McCord

Replacing Matt Jones: Buckeyes Have Guarded Optimism Up Front

This is the ninth and final piece in a series looking at how the Buckeyes will be replacing their departed starters in 2024. Up next is a look at the right guard position vacated by the departure of Matt Jones.

Matt Jones was a sixth-year senior last year for the Buckeyes. He left with 30 starts in his career. This included spot starts in both 2020 and 2021 before becoming a full-time starter in 2022. Even as a part-time starter in 2021, Jones still earned Third-Team All-Big Ten honors.

As a fifth-year and sixth-year player in 2022 and 2023, Jones was named a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection.

Jones came to Ohio State from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York where he was the No. 1 center in the 2018 recruiting class. He was ranked the No. 68 player in the nation and the No. 2 player in the state behind OSU tight end teammate Jeremy Ruckert.

Jones leaves Ohio State as a versatile interior lineman who could play both guard spots and center. His final start for the Buckeyes was his first-career start at center.

The Candidates

There is no shortage of candidates to replace Matt Jones, and the pecking order may shift on a daily basis. With the addition of Alabama starting center Seth McLaughlin and the return of OSU starting center Carson Hinzman, the Buckeyes now have two centers with established starting experience. Does “the loser” of the center battle simply move over and become Ohio State’s new starting right guard?

Head coach Ryan Day recently mentioned the possibility of moving starting right tackle Josh Fryar to right guard. Third-year lineman Tegra Tshabola could also be involved here, as may second-year guys Luke Montgomery and Austin Siereveld. Montgomery played right tackle last year and was also an extra tight end. His future may stay at tackle, however, especially if Fryar makes the move inside.

The Buckeyes also return Enokk Vimahi for his sixth season. Vimahi got the start at right guard in the Cotton Bowl. True freshman Devontae Armstrong is also another option, but it is unlikely that a freshman is going to be able to step in and make it to the top of the heap.

Spring Outlook

Josh Fryar will get a look at right guard this spring according to Ryan Day, but it didn’t sound like it was going to be a long look. They have a pretty good idea of what they have in him and he’s played every position on the offensive line save for center, so there isn’t much mystery there.

The mysteries are with everybody else. The good news is that senior left guard Donovan Jackson — who is entering his third year as a starter — won’t need a ton of reps this spring, so the Buckeyes can get some extra work in with players repping at both spots.

With Fryar expected to be at right tackle for the majority of spring ball, Enokk Vimahi and Tegra Tshabola could be in for a pretty good battle.

The Best Bet

The right guard spot is a complete unknown right now simply because of the possibilities. And it’s not just dependent upon who can play the position. It’s also dependent upon whether or not somebody can play right tackle in place of Josh Fryar.

If Luke Montgomery is good enough to start at right tackle, then Fryar becomes the favorite to be OSU’s right guard. As always, it will come down to who are the five best linemen on the team, and then they’ll go from there.

The decision will ultimately be decided by who the fifth man ends up being. If we’re operating under the assumption that the top four are left tackle Josh Simmons, left guard Donovan Jackson, center Seth McLaughlin, and Josh Fryar, then the fifth man is most likely to be Carson Hinzman, Tegra Tshabola, Luke Montgomery, or Enokk Vimahi.

Then, depending on who that is, offensive line coach Justin Frye will need to figure out who fits better where. Is Tshabola a better guard than Montgomery is a tackle? Or is the difference negligible and Fryar is a better option at guard anyway?

And there’s always the transfer portal as well.

Ideally, Ohio State would love for Montgomery to emerge as a starter at right tackle, but that’s a tough ask for a true sophomore.


Replacing Quarterback Kyle McCord | Replacing Receiver Julian Fleming | Replacing Receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. | Replacing Tight End Cade StoverReplacing Nose Tackle Mike Hall | Replacing Linebacker Steele Chambers | Replacing Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg | Replacing Safety Josh Proctor

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