Seth McLaughlin

Closer Look: Seth McLaughlin New Center Of Attention For Ohio State?

Five years ago this month Seth McLaughlin committed to Alabama. McLaughlin attended Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, which is also the same school that former Ohio State offensive lineman Harry Miller attended.

The Crimson Tide beat out schools like Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Texas and Michigan for his services. McLaughlin was ranked the No. 11 center in the 2020 recruiting class and the No. 524 player overall. The Buckeyes never got too involved with McLaughlin back then as they had their No. 1 center target Luke Wypler pretty well locked in.

McLaughlin took over at center for Alabama prior to midseason as a redshirt sophomore in 2022. He started eight games that year, then held onto the job in 2023 and started every game for the Tide.

Following the 2023 season, McLaughlin entered the transfer portal, doing so before Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced his retirement. Three days after entering the portal, McLaughlin committed to Ohio State.

What To Like

The first thing to like about Seth McLaughlin is his experience playing in high-level games against elite competition. He has essentially seen it all now, whether it’s facing a standard four-man front or three-man front or the NFL-style attacking fronts from 50 different angles.

McLaughlin is a pretty good pass blocker at center and he doesn’t tend to get tied up in twists and stunts. He stays aware of his surroundings and is quick enough to shift positions to pick off a rusher. This was especially important last season because of the amount of time Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe stayed in the pocket.

Georgia tried to go after McLaughlin with some blitzes up the middle but he handled his business and kept things clean for Milroe.

At 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, McLaughlin has been labeled “undersized” by some. That can show up at the point of attack in the running game where he isn’t necessarily pushing defenders backward. He definitely understands leverage, however, and does a good job of sealing off defenders from the play.

He is also very mobile and can pull or get up field to the second level. And when he gets there, he’s always looking for work.

The Potential

It’s difficult to talk about the potential of a fifth-year senior because after starting 22 games at Alabama, Seth McLaughlin is what he is. Good players never stop improving but he is a known quantity at this point — and that’s not a bad thing. Heck, that’s why Ohio State brought him in.

Buckeye offensive line coach Justin Frye and head coach Ryan Day have seen what McLaughlin was able to do for Alabama and now they want him to do that for one final season at Ohio State.

Nothing that McLaughlin sees this year will be beyond his experiences the last couple of years. He has faced SEC defensive lines. He has faced the Texas interior two years in a row, and he also dealt with Michigan’s tackles last year — which he may have to do again this year.

This isn’t really about potential for Ohio State. This is about realization.

There are a handful of upshots for Ohio State here. The experience is an obvious one, but don’t discount the fact that McLaughlin received plenty of criticism last season for some snapping issues, which can be quite the motivating factor.

That being said, low snaps were too common last year and it’s something that he is working to fix as the Buckeyes start spring ball on Tuesday.

The Expectations

The Buckeyes are returning starting center Carson Hinzman, who won the job last year as a redshirt freshman. He won the job a bit by default, however. Last year was a learning experience for Hinzman, and learning on the job can sometimes lead to some miscues.

Ohio State didn’t go into the portal for a center for no reason, so the expectation here is that Seth McLaughlin will be the starter. Hinzman can still find his way into the starting lineup, however, if he is one of OSU’s best five linemen.

McLaughlin has a lot to learn when it comes to the Ohio State offense, but centers are generally pretty fast learners. It will be interesting to see how the transition this spring goes for him, because it might not be smooth.

Eventually, however, late November will get here and he’ll have to be ready. McLaughlin did pretty well against Michigan’s talented defensive tackles this past January. The Crimson Tide rushed for 248 yards on the Wolverines, but lost 49 yards to sacks. It was one step forward, two steps back too often in their playoff game last season. And that included some low snaps from McLaughlin.

The Bottom Line

Michigan had Alabama’s offensive line questioning everything when it came to the pass rush. They attacked from all angles, threw twists in constantly, and also had some very talented one-on-one pass rushers.

Not much is going to change for Seth McLaughlin the next time he faces Michigan. The tackles Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham are still going to be there.

But even before that point, McLaughlin and Ohio State’s eventual quarterback will need to get on the same page regarding protection calls and seeing things correctly.

Seth McLaughlin is an experienced center with really good awareness but has gotten into some trouble with his snaps. He has also simply gotten caught up in the wash up front at times, but that’s going to happen with so many big people in such a confined space.

McLaughlin’s presence will improve the competition at center, which wasn’t really much of a competition at all last year. It will also be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly uses McLaughlin’s mobility and understanding of leverage.

Ohio State will enter spring ball with over 100 career starts on the offensive line. This should be a group that picks up speed relatively quickly, even if they have a brand new center.

Previous Closer Look Editions

Quarterback Will Howard | Running Back Quinshon JudkinsTight End Will Kacmarek | Safety Caleb Downs

Go to discussion...