In remaining at Ohio State, Nicholas Petit-Frere sees room for improvement
Nicholas Petit-Frere briefly mulled the possibly of entering this month’s NFL draft.
In his debut season starting at right tackle for Ohio State, he quickly established himself as one of the nation’s best pass protectors, fulfilling much of his promise as a former top-10 prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. Petit-Frere did not allow a sack over a span of seven games, according to Pro Football Focus data.
But he held off on a draft declaration and has remained with the Buckeyes ahead of a fourth season.
“I felt comfortable coming back for another year because I felt like I have a lot more to prove,” Petit-Frere said. “I have a lot more for me to show on the field, and I want another opportunity to have another great winter, have another good summer, good spring, and another chance to come out and play with these guys and possibly get a chance to win a national championship.”
His offseason preparation at this time last year was severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Most of the Buckeyes’ spring practices were canceled, beginning a months-long shutdown of athletics facilities on campus before small-group workouts were permitted to resume in June.
It was a challenge for him to settle in as a new face on the offensive line last spring. It was also difficult to find the space to work out.
Left with few options for training, Petit-Frere resorted to pull-ups on the gutter at his mother’s house in Tampa, Florida, before the 315-pound lineman caused some damage.
He also missed the camaraderie of teammates while players were scattered across the country.
“It's been a great time being back in the facility for spring and winter workouts,” Petit-Frere said, “because this one of our biggest times in terms of developing a team and creating a great group of guys and a great group of athletes.”
For the development of Petit-Frere as he prepares for his second full season as a starter at right tackle, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa sees run blocking as an area where he can make some of the biggest strides.
It starts with lowering his pad level, as the 6-foot-5 tackle often got too upright while blocking smaller defenders.
“He is a tall guy,” Studrawa said, “and for him to bend at times, it's a strain.”
The emphasis has required additional leg-strengthening exercises and flexibility training.
“His pass blocking excelled,” Studrawa added. “That was last year's focus: Making him an elite pass protector. He's well on his way. His feet are done. He's doing those things there. But what we've got to do is make him an elite run blocker, not just a good run blocker. He's got to become elite.”
Despite last fall’s breakout season, Petit-Frere has strived to maintain his focus and seek continuous improvement.
Plaudits only matter so much.
“The main goal is to improve on what I did from the season before,” he said. “I'm not going to just forget about what I've done, I'm going to make sure what I've done is try to improve on the things that I've done, and not just stay the same, but to be even better.”