Seth McLaughlin Ohio State Buckeyes Center

Seth McLaughlin Fitting In Well: ‘Feels like I’ve been here for four years’

It’s never easy for a transfer to step into a new football program, but former Alabama center Seth McLaughlin has been making the best of a challenging situation.

When Ohio State goes into the transfer portal for a player, they’re not necessarily looking for a depth piece. They want somebody who is going to be able to contribute.

Likewise, when a two-year starter at a major football power like McLaughlin leaves for a new school, he’s not looking to be a depth piece either.

It’s a situation that can create tension from the returning players, and also add a ton of pressure on the transfer to catch up with everyone else. Both parties could make this much more difficult than it needs to be, but that’s far from the situation McLaughlin finds himself in with the Buckeyes.

“I’m absolutely head over heels just so happy,” McLaughlin said on Monday. “It’s been super refreshing being here. I love the guys in this locker room. Like, truly every single guy throughout every single position group has been so open and welcoming. They know where I came from and I think they have respect for that, and I hope that they can see that I can add to this team in a positive way.”

Finding The Right Fit

When Ohio State goes into the transfer portal, there is a considerable vetting process that goes on. They need to know that whoever they are bringing in is going to be able to fit in. The players themselves also need to vet the school. To this point, everybody is thrilled with the fit.

“He just jumped right in,” said offensive line coach Justin Frye. “Unbelievable job both ways of him just coming in and shelving the ego — but he really had none. We told him when we recruited him, you’re coming into a room of a bunch of good dudes. And then our good dudes are good dudes.”

Seth McLaughlin spent four years at Alabama, and now he comes to Ohio State where the Buckeyes have a returning starter at center in Carson Hinzman. Hinzman won the job last year as a redshirt freshman, and now the two of them are sharing the reps in practice.

It would be an uncomfortable situation at a lot of places and for a lot of people, but that’s not been the case so far.

“I don’t really look at it as a competition,” McLaughlin said. “Me and Carson, we’re good friends. I think the best five guys are gonna play, whatever that may be. Thankfully, that’s not my decision to make, that’s on the coaches. But it’s been good.”

The Buckeyes return four starters on the offensive line, needing to replace just departed right guard Matt Jones. How the situation at center goes could also impact the competition at right guard. To this point, however, McLaughlin and Hinzman have spent their time at center, rolling in with all different combinations of linemen next to them. Both players are just trying to show their coaches that they belong in that first group of five.

Only Forward

Seth McLaughlin’s season ended last year with a loss to Michigan in the playoffs. That game saw some errant snaps from McLaughlin to Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe. The situation is in the rearview for everyone. Or at least it was until Ohio State head coach Ryan Day mentioned recently that the snaps came down to a “cadence issue,” and that the snaps have been just fine this spring. The comments created a stir in Tuscaloosa, but McLaughlin is simply ready to move on and control what he can control.

“Last year happened,” he said. “You can’t go back and control what happened. But this year, I can put my best foot forward and be the best center or offensive lineman that I can be. That’s really all I can control now going forward.”

McLaughlin did say that he likes Ohio State’s use of a verbal cadence prior to the quarterback clapping for the snap. Without that cadence, he equated it to a golfer being in a holding pattern with his back swing and waiting for a signal to finish the swing.

But McLaughlin isn’t interested in looking back, other than to improve himself as a player for today and tomorrow. That’s the same mentality that everyone else has on this Ohio State team as well, which is part of the reason why he has fit in so well.

“I mean, I’ve been on many teams and each team has its own identity, and I could tell the first day I stepped in here that the guys really do care about each other,” he said.

“We go through a lot of hard stuff together, and that brings everybody together. It’s kind of just embracing the suck together. I think the guys do a great job of bringing people in and they really make us one of their own. It feels like I’ve been here for four years, the way they’ve accepted me. So I’ve loved that.”

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