The last two Ohio State players who switched from guard to center won the Rimington Trophy.
No pressure, Michael Jordan.
On Monday, Buckeyes acting head coach Ryan Day made official what had been rumored. Jordan, a two-year starter at left guard, will be the one making snaps to Dwayne Haskins Jr. in Ohio State’s opener Saturday against Oregon State.
“We have to still go through the week, but coming out of preseason camp, he is the starting center,” Day said in his first news conference in his role filling in for suspended coach Urban Meyer.
Two years ago, Jordan became the first Ohio State true freshman to start on the offensive line since Orlando Pace in 1994. Jordan was a first-team All-Big Ten pick by coaches in 2017.
His predecessors, Pat Elflein and Billy Price, each won the Rimington as the nation’s top center after switching from guard. Brady Taylor entered camp as the favorite to win the job, but the fifth-year senior has been hampered by nagging injuries.
Day said that Demetrius Knox will start at right guard and Malcolm Pridgeon will get the nod at left guard. Isaiah Prince is the right tackle. Day said it’s unclear who will start at left tackle between Thayer Munford, who has been battling an injury, and Josh Alabi.
Day said Branden Bowen, the starter at right guard last year before he suffered a broken leg, is still dealing with the effects of that injury.
Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said that Baron Browning, Malik Harrison and Pete Werner will be the starting linebackers on Saturday.
Harrison saw extensive action last season and was expected to be a starter. Browning was a five-star recruit last year and his emergence at middle linebacker is no surprise.
Werner is a bit of one, though he was someone who caught coaches’ eyes as a freshman last year.
“I tell you he has made a quite an ascension, right?” Schiano said. “You saw him kind of grow up on special teams last year. And that’s the history and tradition of this program. Guys have made their name on special teams and then continued that ascension and he did just that.
“He had a great spring. He really, really worked hard to change his body, to mature his body, and he is a much bigger man now than he was as a freshman.”
Schiano emphasized that the linebacker situation is fluid. Tuf Borland, a redshirt sophomore who played superbly last year when thrust into the lineup, is close to returning from an Achilles injury suffered in the spring.
“He may be back this week,” Schiano said. “It’s amazing the way he has rehabbed.”
With Ohio State a prohibitive favorite over Oregon State, the Buckeyes likely will choose to be cautious with Borland. Schiano said that the Buckeyes are so deep at linebacker that they likely will use several other players in packages.
Martell makes push
Day made it clear that backup quarterback Tate Martell figures in the Buckeyes’ plans.
“Tate made some great progress,” Day said. “Especially in the last two weeks, he made a really big push. Dwayne will start on Saturday. But the plan is to play Tate. How, when, or anything like that, we don’t know yet.”
With freshman Matthew Baldwin still rehabbing from a torn ACL, the Buckeyes have added West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov and he is on scholarship.