COLUMBUS — Maybe Joshua Alabi won’t be a starter on a full-strength Ohio State offensive line.
But he could be.
Maybe Alabi is a left tackle. Maybe the fifth-year senior could kick to the right. Perhaps if the Buckeyes needed him elsewhere, the veteran could slide inside to guard in a pinch.
With no unit heading into the summer with more question marks than the offensive line, a guy who has started in the Rose Bowl, understands what it means to be a selfless teammate and has the versatility to help in a variety of ways is absolutely critical. Even if Alabi doesn’t wind up as a first-choice starter for Ohio State this year, that group can’t become a strength of the team without dependable options waiting in the wings — and Alabi proved to be just that on New Year’s Day and throughout spring camp.
“On the offensive line, we have four guys to replace there,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said after the exhibition game on Saturday. “And so, that’s something where we’re probably the least experienced — that and quarterback are the two for me.
“Concern wise, it’s the offensive line because we lost four real guys there and Thayer [Munford] didn’t play in the spring. How is that all going to look when we get into the preseason? We do have some guys coming in, which is good. We’ve got the cavalry coming, which is important.”
No summertime addition will be more critical than having Munford back at left tackle, which will certainly have a direct impact on Alabi and his opportunity for playing time. Munford’s hip injury at the end of last season opened up the chance for Alabi to perform in the win over Washington in the Rose Bowl, and it also gave him an opportunity to add more valuable first-unit reps throughout spring camp.
What exactly that means for Joshua Alabi moving forward remains to be seen. But the experienced offensive lineman is a key component for that group no matter what, and former Ohio State right tackle Reid Fragel returned to the Lettermen Row film lab to break down Alabi’s improvement and the value he provides for the program in the latest episode of BuckIQ.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.