Ohio State football coach Ryan Day has a term for Thayer Munford’s training camp regimen — volume control.
The junior offensive left tackle is taking a limited number of snaps during training camp as he returns from back surgery. Josh Alabi is taking many of the first-team reps under offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
But Day said Wednesday that he isn't concerned about Munford being ready for the season opener Aug. 31 against Florida Atlantic.
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“He's been practicing well,” Day said. “He's practicing hard. He's got some volume control, but I think Stud and our trainers have done an excellent job of making sure that we ease him back in. He looks strong, and so far he's had a good camp.”
The term “volume control” could apply to Munford’s status on the line in another way. A year ago, he was a first-year starter playing on a senior-laden line. He limited his volume in deference to those veterans.
“I felt like last year I wasn't ready to actually talk to those guys that had already played on the offensive line,” Munford said.
Now, he is the line's only returning starter.
“It is very weird,” he said.
What makes it stranger, he said, is that he might be the youngest starting lineman. Munford was 17 when he graduated from high school and won’t turn 20 until next month.
He was a late addition to Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class after an atypical path that included a move from Cincinnati to Massillon to live with his high school coach and a weight loss of 50 pounds.
Munford earned the left tackle spot last year and generally played well, though with some acknowledged bumps. He did so despite a back injury that forced him to miss the Rose Bowl and would require surgery.
Munford estimates that he was only 75 percent healthy most of last season.
“I do feel 100 percent (now) … a lot better than I did last year,” he said. “I'm just happy to be back with my brothers and happy to compete and be with them on the field.”
Though Munford is the only returning starter on the line, it is not an inexperienced unit. He said he is looking forward to playing with left guard Jonah Jackson, a graduate transfer from Rutgers.
“After the first day, I was like, OK, I can play with him,” Munford said. “Last year, we had our struggles because I was new on the offensive line and (left guard) Malcolm (Pridgeon) was also new as a starter, but he was also older. So personally for me, I wasn't ready. But now I'm more confident and know what to do. I can trust him to do his job, and he can trust me to do my job as well.”
Back issues can be notoriously persistent, but the Buckeyes are optimistic that Munford’s will hold up.
“He's 313 pounds,” Studrawa said. “He looked like a million bucks, and that's going to take some of the stress off his back. Right now, we're limiting him till he gets back into the swing of things. You’ve got to remember that Jonah and Thayer … haven't had a full-go practice in pads since last November. …
“So knocking the dust off and getting them going, that's going to come every practice we have pads, but Thayer looks really good.”