COLUMBUS – Since he arrived at Ohio State in 2018 as a 5-star recruit, offensive tackle Nicolas Petit-Frere has been asked to do two things that might seem uncomplicated and easy to some people but really aren’t.
First, he had to put on nearly 50 pounds before he broke into the Buckeyes’ starting lineup at right tackle last season. Then this season he moved to left tackle, where he has played as well as anyone in college football at that position.
Consuming 8,000 calories a day to get up to his current weight of 315 pounds wasn’t easy. And switching positions from one side of the line to the other was almost as difficult, Petit-Frere says.
“I didn’t think anything would be as hard as putting on weight but switching positions was pretty close,” he said earlier this week.
“It was very hard. I’m not going to lie. Everyone has growing pains when they switch positions. I was like I always had to be seamless and flawless and not have any setbacks. But there were setbacks in (preseason) camp, there was an adjustment period. It was kind of like my freshman year where there were growing pains and I had to adjust.”
Petit-Frere, who was second-team All-Big Ten last season, made the move to left tackle as part of a plan to get OSU’s five best offensive linemen on the field.
The redesigned line has three first-year starters – Dawand Jones at right tackle, Luke Wypler at center and Paris Johnson Jr. at right guard. Last year’s left tackle Thayer Munford is now the left guard.
Those five players and tight end Jeremy Ruckert have played a major role in Ohio State ranking No. 1 nationally in scoring (49.3) and total offense (559.7). And quarterback C.J. Stroud has been sacked only five times in six games.
“I’m happy about the move because, first and foremost, it helped the team. I think we became a better team when I switched from right tackle to left tackle,” Petit-Frere said.
“I think that opened up more possibilities on the offensive line and it kind of changed our offense a little bit because now maybe we had a different way of how we thought about our offensive line and how certain guys are better at some things than others.”
Petit-Frere has been especially good at pass blocking. He says he feels a sense of urgency to protect the quarterback.
“I press to make sure that whoever is behind me, I protect them,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. Whether it was Justin (Fields) last year or C.J. this year, whoever is behind me at quarterback, that’s the No. 1 thing I’m pressed about. I need to protect this guy with everything I can, every single play I can.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau