Toe the line: Offensive front key for Buckeyes


By Jim Naveau - [email protected]



COLUMBUS – While Ohio State’s football team was satisfying its appetite for breakfast Thursday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center its appetite for revenge was being sharpened.

The television in the room where the Buckeyes had gathered before their seventh day of spring practice was showing a 60-minute Big Ten Network version of OSU’s 42-27 loss to Michigan last season, which didn’t exactly earn rave reviews from that audience.

“That TV almost came down,” said OSU center Luke Wypler, who quickly admitted the overall reaction was not nearly that extreme.

“It happened. You’ve got to learn from it. It was good that it was there. We need to use it and get better every day,” he said. “I think it was a little extra motivation. Anytime you see those colors and hear that name, it definitely clicks with you and gets you going in the morning.”

If Ohio State does improve on its 11-2 record last season in the upcoming season, Wypler and the rest of the offensive line will play a big role in that change for the better.

If the season started today, the Buckeyes’ five starters on the offensive line would be Paris Johnson at left tackle, Donovan Jackson at left guard, Matt Jones at right guard, Dawand Jones at right tackle and Wypler.

Dawand Jones, Johnson and Wypler are returning starters. The two new starters will be replacing Nicholas Petit-Frere and Thayer Munford, both expected to be selected in the NFL draft. Jackson is a former 5-star recruit and Matt Jones is a former 4-star recruit who got playing time at both guard positions last season.

Wypler emerged last season when Harry Miller, viewed by many as the likely starting center, was listed as unavailable for all but a few snaps all season. Miller recently announced he was retiring from football to deal with mental health issues.

“Last year even though I was thrown in I was prepared. I had prepared all off-season. It was something I was ready for. Now the experience is just an added bonus,” Wypler said.

“The first game at Minnesota, it was kind of weird going back and watching that. I felt like a little kid watching it. As the year progressed and once I got to the Rose Bowl my presence on the field was a lot calmer. I wasn’t bouncing around and looking around on every play. I think that I settled down and the calmness is something I really noticed.

“By week 8 or week 9 and you’re in the thick of it, going through the brunt of the Big Ten schedule, you feel how much difference there is and how much confidence you’re playing with,” he said.

Wypler, a 4-star recruit who was ranked the No. 1 player in New Jersey in his class, describes himself as a student of the game.

“I really love to study the game. That’s one of my biggest trademarks. Obviously, I’m not going to impress anyone with an elite frame or size but I think I do a really good job in the film room trying to get after it,” he said.

He says he has noticed an increased intensity in not just the offensive line but in the whole team this spring.

“The whole team last year, maybe we didn’t have what it took to get to the finish line and we all saw that. This year, even in spring practice, you can see the intensity.

“We don’t want to come up short ever again. I don’t think any of us want to have that sickening feeling in our stomach of not being able to make it to the goals we had set. Even though we might have worked hard last season, this season it’s just a different feeling and mentality. Even though you went hard, you can go harder.

“I’m able to see it every day. Guys are maybe bringing more than they did last year,” he said

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By Jim Naveau

[email protected]

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau