Ohio State offensive line's new starters jell

Bill Rabinowitz
Ohio State offensive linemen, from left, guard Wyatt Davis, center Josh Myers, guard Jonah Jackson and tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere line up against Northwestern in October. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Ryan Day called the trio the tip of the Buckeyes' spear.

The Ohio State coach wasn't talking about the Buckeyes' Heisman Trophy contenders, no offense to Justin Fields, Chase Young and J.K. Dobbins.

Sure, Ohio State's quarterback, defensive end and running back have recorded monster numbers this season. But the three whom Day referred to have no individual stats, at least not any generally known outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

Center Josh Myers, left guard Jonah Jackson and right guard Wyatt Davis usually don't get the big headlines. But to Day and the Buckeyes, Ohio State's offensive success this season starts with the three players in the middle of the line.

“I think those three inside guys are the best in the country,” Day said this week as the Buckeyes began preparations for the Big Ten championship game Saturday against Wisconsin.

Jackson was voted first-team All-Big Ten by coaches, and Davis was by media. Myers was second-team by media and third-team by coaches, joining tackles Thayer Munford and Branden Bowen as All-Big Ten selections.

Myers, Jackson and Davis are all talented players — Davis was a five-star recruit out of California — but they are better than the sum of their parts.

“You see how they not only play but how they communicate, how they understand the game,” Bowen said. “You turn on the Team Up North game, and Jonah, Wyatt and Josh, I mean they're just rolling dudes. I really haven't seen that before, so it definitely makes it easy to play next to those guys.”

What's particularly remarkable about the trio is that they are all new Buckeyes starters. Davis started last year's Big Ten championship game and Rose Bowl after Demetrius Knox was injured at the end of the Michigan game.

Myers, who played guard in a wing-T offense in high school, wasn't deemed ready at the start of last year, so coaches moved Michael Jordan to center. Myers now realizes he did need more seasoning.

Jackson didn't arrive until after spring practice as a graduate transfer from Rutgers. He quickly earned respect with his toughness and dedication. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa keeps track each game of the number of each lineman's knockdown blocks. Davis said Jackson has won every week.

Myers and Davis said their success stems from a genuine friendship.

“We're such a close, tight-knit group that you want to do it not for yourself but for the guy next to you,” Davis said.

The bond started before the season. They knew that because Munford was the only returning starter, the pressure was on them to jell quickly.

“We knew coming into the season that we were going to be the question mark on the team, which makes sense,” Davis said. “We kind of took that to heart and still do. We're still going out each week trying to prove that we're not that question mark.”

Now it's more like an exclamation point.

“First off, their approach to the game is off the charts,” Day said. “They understand stuff. They communicate. They're tough. They're good in the run game and pass game. They finish guys.”

Ohio State's line knows it has a big job this week. Wisconsin's defense ranks sixth nationally. The battle of the offensive lines — the Badgers always have a good one — will be pivotal.

Myers said that was on his linemates' minds before the Buckeyes' 38-7 win over Wisconsin in October, and it will be again on Saturday. As the postseason begins, Myers wants to live up to his coach's high praise.

“That's something we're super proud of, and we hope it's believed across the board,” he said.


Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

TV: Fox (Ch. 28)

Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)

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