Jonah Jackson wasted little time when Ohio State’s preseason training camp opened last week.
He joined the first-team offensive line, taking reps at left guard.
It was not an unexpected development. He had arrived this summer as a graduate transfer from Rutgers, joining the Buckeyes for his final season of eligibility over programs such as Oklahoma. And it took only a handful of practices before Jackson emerged as the front-runner to start at the spot opposite Wyatt Davis, a third-year sophomore who is expected to be the starting right guard.
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“It's like he's had a seamless transition,” Davis said. “You would've thought he would have been here all four years the way he came in. He really had minimal questions about stuff. As soon as we got on the field, you could see why he was a top grad transfer, because he was so smart and he was able to just pick up stuff.”
Jackson attributed his quick adjustment to overlap between Ohio State and Rutgers. Some of the terminology was similar, as were other off-field structures. The Scarlet Knights are coached by Chris Ash, who previously had been the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator and took some assistants with him to New Jersey.
Some of the similarities involved offensive scheme. Jackson found the approach at Ohio State most similar to when Drew Mehringer was Rutgers’ offensive coordinator in 2016, his redshirt freshman season. Mehringer, now an assistant at Texas, had been a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2012 and 2013 under former coach Urban Meyer.
It was “almost the same system,” Jackson said this week.
When he spoke with reporters after a recent practice, Jackson said he thought he provided the team with a veteran presence with his knowledge and grasp of the offense, as well as other factors.
“I just bring some energy,” Jackson said. “You always gotta give a good vibe. Your energy is a direct reflection of your line. And then some nastiness and grit, that’s something I like to pride myself on.”
Jackson was versatile enough to appear at multiple spots on the Buckeyes offensive line when training camp began. He started at right guard for Rutgers last season, as well as five games at center in 2017.
But he has not seen any reps at center, where third-year sophomore Josh Myers is poised to emerge as the starter. Freshman Harry Miller has taken reps behind Myers, leaving Jackson largely settled on left guard.
“If they need, they need me,” Jackson said of the center spot. “If not, there's somebody else who's ready to roll.”
Most people in Ohio State’s program rave about Jackson's maturity and attitude. It was the first thing offensive line coach Greg Studrawa brought up.
"You talk about a guy who provides leadership without saying a word,” Studrawa said. “Obviously, he's a new guy; guys are just getting to know him. … But he is professional. He does his job. He goes hard every play that he's in there, then goes back in and does it again. He's starting to lead by example.”
After losing four of their five starters on the offensive line, the Buckeyes needed a veteran, and Jackson provides that. The chance to play at Ohio State also offered Jackson a new experience. During Jackson's time at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights never won more than four games in a season.
The Buckeyes have enjoyed far more success. Jackson noted the championship banners that hang from the walls inside the practice field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Asked if the program’s pedigree swayed him, Jackson needed only a one-word response: