Harry Miller-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State offensive lineman Harry Miller will not have contact in spring practice. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Next Man Up: How Buckeyes can replace invaluable Josh Myers at center

Ohio State had an incredible season last year on its way to the national title game, where it beat Clemson in the semifinal and fell short against Alabama. Many of the key players from that team moved onto the NFL. Who could step in to make plays similar to what the former Buckeyes made last season? Lettermen Row is breaking down key plays and who could make them. Next up: How the Buckeyes can replace center Josh Myers as the apex of the offense.

COLUMBUS — Josh Myers was an unsung star for Ohio State the last two seasons.

As the Buckeyes were making back-to-back runs to the College Football Playoffs, Myers was dependable. He was consistent. And he was one of the best centers in the country, leading one of America’s best offensive lines.

Now, though, he’s off to the NFL, recently drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers.

The race to replace the consistent, steady Myers is bleeding into the summer after an intense battle this spring. It doesn’t seem to be settled yet. But four Buckeyes offensive linemen will have their chance in training camp to claim that coveted Ohio State center job.

Josh Myers-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Former Ohio State center Josh Myers will be hard to replace. (Courtesy/Ohio State Dept. of Athletics)

“I think it’s going good so far,” Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said in the spring. “A lot of guys getting reps. Matt Jones and Luke [Wypler] are getting the majority of the reps at the center position right now, but Jakob James is getting some too, as a young guy. Those three, all three of those guys are doing pretty well in there so far and handling things pretty good.”

Of course, the fourth option is Harry Miller, a third-year player who started at guard last season and was the front-runner for the center spot until he missed all spring. He’ll be healthy for camp and ready to show why he’s the man to beat out for the center job.

Who can become one of the best centers in America for the Buckeyes? Which offensive lineman will step up this fall as the apex of the offense? Lettermen Row is examining all the options to replace the production and leadership of Josh Myers at Ohio State.

Harry Miller-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State offensive lineman Harry Miller will not have contact in spring practice. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State center options

Harry Miller: Ohio State had one of the best offensive lines in the country a season ago, and Harry Miller was 20 percent of that starting five. Now that Myers is off to the NFL, the plan was always for Miller to slide easily into the center spot. And Miller could have cemented himself as the starting center had he been healthy for the spring. Through summer workouts and into training camp, Miller is expecting to be healthy and compete for the starting spot. Can he make the seamless transition into the middle and become the leader of the offense? He is the likely front-runner.

Luke Wypler: While Miller was out with the spring, Luke Wypler took plenty of reps at center. And he was among the most highly-praised players on the roster throughout the camp. Wypler, like Miller, has an ability to play guard or center. If Wypler and Miller are both among the best five offensive linemen on the roster, one will play center and one will play guard. Wypler earned reps at center in the spring, and he could use that to springboard himself into the starting role entering training camp. He’s only a sophomore, but Luke Wypler is a rising star on the offensive line. Can he become that at center?

Matthew Jones-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State offensive lineman Matthew Jones was impressive at left guard in his start. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Matthew Jones: Among the prospective centers, Matthew Jones has been in the football program the longest. Jones stepped in for spot-starts last season when others were out due to the COVID-19 protocols, allowing him to show he is more than capable of blocking for the best offense in the Big Ten. He was one of the offensive linemen who gained reps at center due to the injury of Miller. Jones impressed last season in his limited action. He could use that to bolt to the top of the depth chart and become a surprising starting center.

Jakob James: Ohio State must have depth at center, and Jakob James provides that. He entered the program as a guard but has taken reps at center. He is a long-shot for the starting center role, but he’s getting better and giving the Buckeyes depth at the position down the depth chart.

Luke Wypler-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Luke Wypler has a chance to claim a starting job on the offensive line. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The pick: Luke Wypler or Harry Miller

Ohio State has a long list of successful centers, and Harry Miller could be next in line — that has always been the plan. But he grew comfortable at guard last season and excelled there. If the Buckeyes want the best five offensive linemen on the field this fall, Wypler and Miller will likely both have jobs in September. Could they swap? Of course, Miller could play center, and Wypler could play guard.

Wypler is younger and could be a two-year starter at center, while Miller has a chance to head to the NFL after a dominant upcoming fall. Could that be the reason to play Wypler at center instead of Miller? Greg Studrawa and the Buckeyes have some decisions to make about the starting offensive line. Keeping Miller at guard and giving Wypler the nod at center could be a huge decision to make. Either way, center is in good hands at Ohio State.

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