Thayer Munford’s path to Ohio State was a winding one with some trying detours.
It ended Wednesday afternoon with smiles.
The Massillon Washington offensive lineman became the 21st member of Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class when he accepted a belated offer from the Buckeyes.
Munford moved last March from Cincinnati, where he attended La Salle, after Lancers coach Nate Moore got the Massillon job. Moore and his wife, Becca, became Munford’s legal guardians at the behest of Munford’s mother.
“The two big factors for Thayer were his weight and academics,” Moore said. “The reason his mother sent him to live with us in Massillon was because he was on track to be a non-qualifier.
“He was essentially one more quarter of high school away from being to the point where there would have been nothing that myself or anyone else could do to help. It was a dire situation.”
The same applied to Munford’s body. He weighed 363 pounds. A strict diet — Becca Moore is a triathlete — enabled him the 6-foot-6 Munford to lose more than 40 pounds.
Munford almost wasn’t allowed to play his senior year. The Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled him ineligible in August because of a bylaw that forbids contact between a coach and a former player after he leaves for another school. Eventually, a compromise was reached that allowed Munford to play starting in week 8, if his academics were satisfactory.
That was in mid-October. A month later, the door to Ohio State opened when Buckeyes commitment Jake Moretti dropped his pledge to the Buckeyes and decided to attend Colorado in his home state.
Even after that, it was not clear that OSU would offer Munford, but it eventually did.
Munford is rated a four-star prospect in the composite rankings by 247sports. He is considered the 28th-best tackle prospect nationally and 280th overall prospect.
“He has all the things you look for in a top-flight offensive lineman if you look at flexibility, hip and ankle flexion, arm length and size,” Moore said. “He’s probably the most powerful kid I’ve ever been around and I’ve had a couple guys that have played offensive line in the NFL. You can check off almost every box with him as an offensive-line recruit.”
It was a long wait to reach this point, and now he can begin anew.
“He’s a really humble, patient young man,” Moore said. “His mom did such a great job of raising him and forming his personality and instructing him in how to handle situations and treat people.
“He’s been great through this process, not that it hasn’t been frustrating for him. It has been a grind.”