Josh Myers believed he was ready to be Ohio State’s starting center last year.
Coaches disagreed. They moved Michael Jordan from guard to that critical position instead.
Only in hindsight could Myers see that it was the right move, for both the team and himself.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
“Not winning that starting spot, I was upset and angry just because I wanted it so bad,” the redshirt sophomore said Monday as the Buckeyes prepared for Friday’s game at Northwestern. “But looking back on it now, I probably wasn't ready for it.”
That disappointment has driven him ever since.
“I just approached it like I had something to prove and something to earn every single day,” Myers said. “And I did.”
Myers took over the position this year. It has looked like a seamless transition.
Has it been?
“Um, no,” Myers said with a smile.
Myers had to make a big transformation from high school when he could rely on his strength. His Miamisburg team ran the wing-T, in which passing is an afterthought. His pass protection skills were raw, to put it mildly.
“I had so many bad habits that I had to break, and it took a long time,” Myers said. “And you know, I'm still working. It's not something that I'm ever going to have to stop working at.
“I wasn't comfortable with my pass pro(tection) till probably about halfway through last season.”
The mental side was also challenging. The center must make the blocking calls for his linemates. It’s why the position is regarded as the apex of the line.
“His responsibility is huge,” right guard Wyatt Davis said. “If he's not clear, then we're all not clear. Otherwise, half the line's not going to know what they're doing.”
Davis said Myers has excelled in that area.
“The calls and just being confident and telling us and leading the offensive line, it's been exceptional,” he said.
Myers strives to be perfect with his calls, and that’s another issue he has faced, especially when the Buckeyes play at a fast tempo.
“I think accepting that it's not always going to be perfect and going fast and living with the call I make and what I do has helped me come a long way, even this last month,” he said. “In a game, it's not going to be perfect. I'm not gonna have time to say what I want to say all the time. I’ve just gotta go with it.”
Myers is one of several new starters on the line, which has played superbly so far.
“I think there were so many question marks about our offensive line coming into the season — four new starters and one returning starter (left tackle Thayer Munford) who was hurt at the end of the season last year,” Myers said. “So just how far we've come and how we're doing has been so satisfying.”
Coach Ryan Day has been pleased with Myers and his linemates, but he said the real tests are just beginning.
“The tale is yet to be written,” Day said, “but obviously (it’s been) a good start.”
Northwestern’s defensive front will be one of the better ones Ohio State will face.
“They have a good scheme,” Myers said. “If you don't know what you're doing, it can be very confusing as an offensive lineman, especially as a center. It’s not just their scheme. Their players are good.”
So far, though, Myers and the Buckeyes’ line has answered every challenge.