Ohio State offensive lineman Thayer Munford has no regrets as NFL looms

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

INDIANAPOLIS — Thayer Munford has no regrets.

Not to return for an extra season at Ohio State in 2021.

Not his switch from left tackle to left guard his final season.

“None at all,” Munford said Thursday at the NFL combine.

When the NCAA granted an additional year of eligibility to players following the COVID-affected 2020 season, Munford chose to take advantage of it, surprising many by not entering the NFL draft after three years of starting at left tackle.

He wanted to finish his degree, which he did. When Dawand Jones began to emerge at right tackle, Munford volunteered to move to guard, with Nicholas Petit-Frere moving from right tackle to left tackle.

It was a selfless move, and that's something he hopes will appeal to NFL teams.

“I'm a team player,” Munford said. “I pride myself on that. I don't care where they put me. I just want to do what's best for the team.”

Thayer Munford is projected as a mid-round draft pick.

Munford's stock might have been higher if he'd entered last year's draft. He had recovered from back surgery to play superbly in 2020.

“I had a phenomenal year,” Munford said. “I had no sacks (allowed), no pressures.”

Playing guard was an adjustment, and though he generally played well, he had some tough moments. One — when bull-rushed by Aidan Hutchinson in the 42-27 loss to Michigan — went viral as emblematic of the Buckeyes' struggles in that game.

“It was just one bad play,” Munford said. “I've been getting that question all the time. It's one play. Aidan's a great player, and I give him all the props in the world because he has grown from the last time we played them in 2019.”

Munford has overcome too much in his life and career to be fazed by one bad play. His story has been well-documented. He grew up in the tough Lincoln Heights section of Cincinnati and struggled academically at LaSalle High School. With his mother's blessing, Munford moved in with his former coach, Nate Moore, who had gone from LaSalle to Massillon Washington High School.

He improved his grades and dropped considerable weight to earn an Ohio State scholarship offer. Munford was the final member, and hardly the most heralded, of the Buckeyes' 2017 recruiting class.

He became a starter as a sophomore, only to suffer a back injury midway through the season. He gutted through the injury, which eventually required surgery, because he didn't want to let down his teammates. By last season, Munford had gained so much respect from his teammates and coaches that he was honored as the Block O recipient, the award in memory of Buckeye legend Bill Willis.

Offensive lineman Thayer Munford Thayer Munford is projected as a mid-round draft pick.

“I think my legacy is basically, just don't ever give up,” Munford said. “Coming from inner-city community in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lincoln Heights, is the biggest accomplishment for me. Everybody comes from different backgrounds, but I feel like I have one of the greatest stories (of someone) that's ever been through Ohio State. Having the right people in my corner and having the right people to help me out, that's a big journey. Going through adversity, a lot of adversity, it's wonderful. It kind of sucked during it, but I appreciate it right now.”

Munford is projected as a likely mid-round draft pick. He's not dwelling on that. He learned long ago not to worry about things out of his control.

“Any team that picks me, I'll be like, OK, it's time to go,” Munford said.

Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at brabinowitz@dispatch.com or on Twitter @brdispatch.

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