A wrestling injury coerced Luke Wypler to display his physical versatility along the offensive line.
An innate football intelligence turned the 2020 Ohio State signee and consensus top-100 offensive lineman into a de facto coach at St. Joseph Regional High School, where Wypler won a 2018 New Jersey state football title.
“Luke was always helping out the younger guys on the offensive line, like another coach,” said Wypler’s former position coach at St. Joseph, Frank Coccaro. “He was showing them step work, showing on film: ‘This is what he means by double-team to this back-side linebacker.’
“He actually kind of already helped mold the younger kids on the offensive line. He could coach the second-team tackles, and I could focus on guards and tackles.”
For two years, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Wypler was the starting left tackle for the Green Knights. The wrestling mishap precluded Wypler from getting into a proper set at left tackle moving into his senior season last fall, so he switched to anchor the right side of the line.
“I think it speaks volumes of his character, that he’s not a me guy, and is all about the team,” Coccaro said. “Never once put his career ahead of team. When he went to right tackle, he struggled in the summer but just kept on working.
“When our center went down, Luke went to center. In high school football, the center is not as big a part of what the offensive line is asked to do, but we did a couple things to pull him into open space because he’s so athletic.”
Wypler’s team-first approach already has been on display inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“Whatever they need me to play, if they need me to kick return, punt, play quarterback; whatever they need me to do,” Wypler said after arriving as an early enrollee. “Wherever they put me, whatever they want to do with me, I’m going to give it 110-percent. The winning culture here. … Everybody in the building is focused on winning.”
And for all Wypler’s football intelligence and intangibles, Coccaro said, his former star pupil’s physical disposition cannot go unnoticed.
“His sophomore year, I forget who we’re playing, but Luke’s at left tackle and we run zone to the right,” Coccaro said. “He takes the backside-linebacker for a damn ride, I mean he finished him and drove his ass 10 yards down the field.
“His junior year against DePaul, he literally took a kid upfield 10 yards and then drove him straight to the sideline. I’ve got a lot of that stuff from Luke.”
Luke Wypler already has displayed leadership, at least among his class, for the Buckeyes. He was among the first verbal pledges in the 2020 haul — committing in summer 2018 to then-coach Urban Meyer — and quickly bonded with fellow prep All-American Paris Johnson Jr.
“Me and him were some of the first guys to commit in this class in 2018,” Wypler said of his bond with Johnson. “Met on a visit to Stanford early in our process as well. We were texting, every week Face-timing, and we’ve been very close.
“We’re roommates, and we’re building our friendship and our brotherhood.”
Spoken like a true coach.