Brady Taylor knows the bar for him is set high. He’d have it no other way.
Two years ago, Pat Elflein won the Rimington Trophy, awarded to college football’s top center. Last year, Billy Price did the same thing.
Taylor is in line to fill those enormous shoes for Ohio State.
“It goes with something coach (Urban) Meyer says: If you replace a good player with someone not as good, then the team gets worse,” Taylor said Wednesday after the Buckeyes’ seventh spring practice.
“My goal is to be the best center in the nation. Being behind them the last two years and getting groomed, it’s definitely a goal of mine, and I think I can accomplish it.”
Elflein and Price followed similar paths. They were multi-year starters at guard before switching to center.
Taylor, a fifth-year senior from Ready, has been a backup throughout his career, though he did get 265 snaps at center last year. Taylor isn’t a lock to be the starter, but he is the favorite and Meyer did single him out for praise on Monday.
Price continually tabbed Taylor as his heir apparent last year.
“We were roommates a lot on road games and talked a lot about what it took to be a center,” Taylor said. “Being around (Price and Elflein), I think it’s really contagious just learning from them and watching them on film and their practice habits. Pat and Billy had unbelievable practice habits — always in football positions, always going hard, always moving their feet.”
Taylor said that his quick feet and his intelligence are among his top assets. So is the drive that comes from having to wait so long for his shot.
“I think I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “It’s my fifth year and my first year starting and that’s always in the back of my head. I feel a lot of people doubt that I can do it, but I’ve been behind some pretty good players.
“It’s been a long journey. (But) being from Columbus and being a fan of the team I play for and really loving this place, it’s a great opportunity.”
The line will have a significantly different look this season with Price and left tackle Jamarco Jones graduated. Isaiah Price has moved from right tackle to left tackle. Michael Jordan is set at left guard, though he’s out for the spring rehabbing a shoulder.
The other spots have yet to be settled. Taylor is competing against redshirt freshman Josh Myers, who’s getting a serious look after moving from guard.
“Josh Myers is definitely a really good player,” Taylor said. “He pushes me every day and is making me an even better player. I think it’s definitely a competition.”
The other big question is the identity of the person Taylor would be snapping to. Dwayne Haskins Jr., Joe Burrow and Tate Martell are competing to succeed J.T. Barrett.
“They’re all really good,” Taylor said. “It’s like one makes a play and then the next one makes a play and you turn around and the next one makes a play. It’s unbelievable to watch.
“I have a pretty good relationship with all of them. I like all of them. They all have good huddle presence. They can all throw the ball and can all run. It’s going to be a tight race for sure.”