When Greg Studrawa showed up for his first day last month as Ohio State's offensive line coach, the bear of a man - nicknamed "Coach Studs" - didn't walk in growling, throwing chairs and laying down the law. Rather, he politely invited Pat Elflein to join him for dinner.
When Greg Studrawa showed up for his first day last month as Ohio State's offensive line coach, the bear of a man - nicknamed "Coach Studs" - didn't walk in growling, throwing chairs and laying down the law.
Rather, he politely invited Pat Elflein to join him for dinner.
Elflein, who chose to return for his final year of eligibility rather than apply for the NFL draft, and junior-to-be left guard Billy Price are the only returning starters to the offensive line.
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From the start, Studrawa, fresh from a two-year stay at Maryland after seven years at Louisiana State, wanted to gain the measure of the group he had inherited from Ed Warinner, now offensive coordinator and tight ends coach.
"Pat and I need to be on the same page as the leaders," Studrawa said. "I'm not in there as some dictator."
Elflein, who will shift from right guard to center next season, has had that dinner and a month of interaction since to gain a perspective on his new coach.
"Tough. Knowledgeable. Personable," Elflein said of his impressions of the Fostoria, Ohio, native. "And he's a Buckeye."
He will have to be diligent, too. Studrawa must identify three new starters due to the departures of All-America left tackle Taylor Decker, right tackle Chase Farris and center Jacoby Boren.
"The other three spots, that's the good thing I guess about me being here, is it's a clean slate for all those guys," Studrawa said. "In their minds, it's a fresh start. You want to earn one of those jobs, you want to be one of the top five? Now is your chance to go get it."
The candidates' list is long. Isaiah Prince saw limited time as a true freshman last season, as did junior-to-be Jamarco Jones.
Of the other linemen who came in last season but were redshirted, 6-foot-9 Kevin Feder looks the part. Matthew Burrell and Branden Bowen are said to be ready to make a move in the spring, as is fourth-year junior Evan Lisle and third-year sophomore Brady Taylor.
Adding junior college transfer Malcolm Pridgeon will enhance the room, Studrawa said of the 6-foot-8, 325-pounder from Central Islip, New York, by way of Nassau Community College.
"It provides depth and competition," Studrawa said. "Those are two things that are critical in developing an offensive line. We will have a lot of guys who have not had much game experience at all. The more competition you can create with guys with size and athleticism, you want to take as many of those guys as you can."
In the quest to relate to his new pupils, Studrawa said it helps that he and Warinner have similar philosophies.
"We're very, very similar in what we teach. … The zone schemes, the gap schemes, the things they teach around here are things that I've done forever," Studrawa said. "We want to make it as easy for the guys here as we can possibly make it. I'm still going to add my touch, my flair to coaching the position. … But I think I think it's going to be a really smooth transition."
A working depth chart as Ohio State seeks three new starters for its offensive line:
Left tackle: Jamarco Jones, jr.; Malcolm Pridgeon, jr.
Left guard: Billy Price*, jr.; Demetrius Knox, so.
Center: Pat Elflein*, sr.; Brady Taylor, so.
Right guard: Matthew Burrell, fr.; Evan Lisle, jr.
Right tackle: Isaiah Prince, so.; Branden Bowen, fr.
* Returning starter