Last week, Isaiah Prince was one of Ohio State’s three player representatives at the Big Ten football media gathering in Chicago.

Anyone who had suggested two years ago that Prince would be bestowed with such an honor would have received a funny look. That’s how rough the offensive tackle’s 2016 season was. But Prince has transformed himself into a crucial senior leader as the Buckeyes await the start of training camp on Friday.

“Two years ago, this is not something I would have thought of,” Prince said of his trip to Chicago. “But it’s something I’ve worked toward, so I’m not that surprised.”

Prince was a highly coveted recruit from Maryland and was thrust into the right tackle spot as a sophomore. It wasn’t always pretty, particularly in a loss at Penn State and against Michigan.

According to the website, Prince had the worst pass-block efficiency rating in the country in 2016, including 15 pressures allowed in the Penn State game alone.

“That was a really low point for me — all the criticism, everybody talking bad about me,” Prince said. “I didn’t know how to handle that.”

No shock here, but social media was not kind.

“I actually had a fake fan page about me: ‘Isaiah Prince sucks.’ I was like, ‘Jeez, that’s pretty (cruel). I’m a kid just learning.’ ”

After that season, Prince resolved to change his mindset. He would work as hard as he could, not dwell on mistakes, take comfort in the reassurance of his coaches, teammates and family, and disregard criticism from the outside world. He took major strides in 2017, earning third-team Big Ten honors and ranking in the 90th percentile of the CFBFilmRoom pass-efficiency chart. This year, he begins the season on the Outland Trophy watch list.

“Off the field, he has always been great,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “On the field, he had some struggles early as an offensive tackle. It was just strength and development. Long-bodied players take a long time to develop. You’re talking about 6-foot-7 — a very long guy — who was weak. Fundamentally, he was a little bit of a Bambi when we got him.”

The Buckeyes experimented with moving Prince to left tackle this spring. The adjustment wasn’t seamless.

“It’s completely different,” he said of switching sides of the line. “It’s like writing with your right hand your whole life and switching to your left. Your muscle memory is different. Everything is backward.”

In the spring game, Prince was back at his familiar spot and sophomore Thayer Munford was on the left side. Prince said he will start camp at right tackle, though that’s not set in stone.

He has taken pride in mentoring Munford and in his role as elder statesman of the line.

“I’m the oldest person in the offensive-line room, which is crazy,” Prince said. “I know there are younger guys looking up to me. When we’re doing drills or in certain situations, younger guys are looking at me to see how I respond. I’ve definitely taken that more seriously this year.”

Meyer ties those strides in leadership to his improvement as a player.

“He’s a very confident player right now,” Meyer said.

The Prince who struggled mightily in 2016 might be gone, but he considers that year a blessing in disguise.

“I don’t think I would have had the success I’ve had today if I didn’t have the downfalls I had then,” he said. “Those downfalls … showed me who I am as a person.”