After playing through injuries, OSU 'brothers' Myers and Davis await NFL draft fate

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Right guard Wyatt Davis (52) and center Josh Myers (71) were a formidable pair of blockers for Ohio State last season, and after playing through injuries are ready to take their shot at an NFL career.

Josh Myers doesn’t regard Wyatt Davis as merely a teammate and close friend.

“If I had to explain my relationship with Wyatt in the best way possible, I would say he's more like a brother to me than a friend,” Myers said of his Ohio State linemate.

The “brothers” are entering the NFL draft with similar storylines. Myers came from the Dayton suburb of Miamisburg and Davis from Los Angeles as blue-chip recruits in the Buckeyes’ 2017 recruiting class.

Both were frustrated they didn’t play much early in their careers before blossoming as stars. Last season, both gritted through painful injuries to help Ohio State reach the national championship game.

Those injuries affected their performance and probably their draft stock. A year ago, Davis was projected as a likely first-round draft pick. Myers wasn’t far below him.

Barring a major surprise during Thursday’s first round, Davis and Myers will await their NFL destination on Friday, when the second and third rounds will be held.

But neither player second-guesses his decision to gut through their injuries.

“It definitely was worth it. As far as playing with those injuries, me and Josh both could have easily pulled out, but I wanted to finish what I started,” Davis said. “I owed it to my teammates.”

Davis was injured in the Buckeyes’ fourth game, against Indiana. The injury was diagnosed as a bone bruise in his knee and what he termed a “low-level” posterior cruciate ligament sprain. Additional tests following the season revealed he also had an anterior cruciate ligament sprain.

“On a scale of one to 10, I would probably say most of the time it was at an 8,” he said of the pain level. “But depending on if I fell on it or got hit there, it would definitely be a 10.”

Several times throughout the latter part of the season, Davis needed to be tended to on the field. But he kept returning until a hit late in the first half knocked him out of the College Football Playoff championship game against Alabama.

Lower-grade sprains in his knee limited guard Wyatt Davis at times throughout the season until the pain became too much in the national-championship game loss to Alabama.

Myers injured his left foot late in the Big Ten championship victory against Northwestern. Doctors told him that if he played against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal, his chance of worsening the injury and requiring surgery would increase. In the third quarter of that game, that’s what happened.

"I felt a pop in my foot,” Myers said. “I felt the bone break and the other one slide off the tendon.”

The injury was to the sesamoid bones under the big toe. The tendon, which is supposed to be under the ball of the foot, slid almost to the arch of Myers’ foot.

Yet he kept playing, essentially competing against Alabama on one foot. But it did affect his play. On a fourth-and-1 play with OSU trailing 45-24 late in the third quarter, he couldn't move fast enough to make a block on a stretch run. Alabama stuffed Master Teague III for a loss.

“I was just sick about it,” Myers said.

Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said Myers was in tears on the sideline after the play.

“How bad that hurt him was unbelievable," he said.

Unlike Davis, whose injuries healed with rest and rehab after the season, Myers needed surgery. But like his “brother,” he has no regrets.

“I didn't really give myself a choice. I kind of told myself from the start when it happened that backing out just wasn't a choice I was going to make,” Myers said.

“I would have felt like I let my teammates down, my coaches, everyone. I knew that no matter how bad it was, I could play through it and play well enough to help the team. I didn't feel like I would have been able to look myself in the mirror afterward if I didn't play.”

The insistence of Myers and Davis to play did nothing but reinforce offensive line coach Greg Studrawa’s respect for them. He said it’s a reflection of the program’s culture of selflessness under Ryan Day.

“You look around the country and offensive lineman everywhere thought they'd arrived and they opted out to get ready for the draft,” Studrawa said. “And these two kids would have not had their team play without them playing. I think that speaks to exactly who they are, and what they've learned, and how they've developed in the culture of the program that coach Day has here.”

When Studrawa talked to NFL teams, he had an answer for anyone who had questions about Myers or Davis.

“They all want to know about the character piece,” he said, “and I say, ‘Guys, here's exactly who you want. Look at what they just did. The rest of these guys sat out to train for the NFL because their future was more important than their team’s. We got a chance to go to the national championship, and these kids came back and risked everything. What more would you want?’ ”

Studrawa expects both Davis and Myers to have successful NFL careers because of both their talent and character. Now the linemen must wait to see where they go.

Davis believes he is the best guard in the draft.

“I think I'll be somebody that will come in and start immediately,” he said. “I feel like I'm someone that brings a lot to the table with leadership, toughness, and most importantly, with my play.

“Whatever happens in the draft is going to happen,” Davis said. “I can't control at this point what my outcome will be. I'm sure Josh is experiencing the same thing. We both know what we bring to a team. We both hope that these teams know that.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch

Rounds 2-3

When: 7 p.m. Friday

TV: ABC (Ch. 6), ESPN, NFL

Radio: WBNS-FM (97.1)