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Five questions for Ohio State along the offensive line

Nicholas Petit Frere-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere is on the rise for the Buckeyes on the offensive line. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Five questions for Ohio State along the offensive line

COLUMBUS — Ohio State has a lot to replace.

The Buckeyes will have to find four new full-time starters along five spots on the offensive line this season. Luckily for the Buckeyes, there’s plenty of talent — but the room became thin when Michael Jordan announced he was leaving for the NFL and three other offensive linemen graduated.

Ohio State hasn’t recruited particularly well at offensive line over the last few years, so the program found a transfer option who will provide depth, and he might even step into a starting role.

It’s a big year for Greg Studwara and the Ohio State offensive line. It’s Offensive Line Week at Lettermen Row, and we have five burning questions for how things might shake out for the Buckeyes in the trenches.

Will Jonah Jackson have an immediate impact at Ohio State?

Jackson, a transfer offensive lineman from Rutgers, was one of the highest-rated transfer prospects in the country before he chose the Buckeyes. With Malcolm Pridgeon, Demetrius Knox, Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince all gone, the Buckeyes became dangerously thin along the line, so Jackson was a perfect fit.

Now, the question becomes whether Jackson will step in right away to grab a starting spot blocking for fellow transfer Justin Fields, or if he’ll have to take some time to become acclimated to Ohio State. He didn’t go through spring practice with Ohio State, so he’ll have ground to gain in the fall.

Branden Bowen-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State offensive lineman Branden Bowen is a versatile, veteran presence for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

What role will Brandon Bowen have?

After breaking his leg two years ago, Bowen finally has a chance to start again for the first time since the injury. But as the battle for each offensive line position heats up, Bowen might be the sixth man the Buckeyes need. He’s versatile and can play nearly everywhere along the line, making him a key piece for Greg Studwara and the offensive staff.

Still, he might not be able to crack the starting rotation. His experience gives him a shot, though.

Can Nicholas Petit-Frere take the next step?

Petit-Frere, who was the No. 1 tackle in the class of 2018, was able to take most of the first-team reps at right tackle for the Buckeyes in the spring due to other injuries and attrition. He’s hoping that will translate into the same reps during fall camp and into the season.

After a spring filled with 8,000-calorie days to pack weight on and bulk up, Petit-Frere seems to be in the right shape to play tackle for the Buckeyes. He’ll be locked in a position battle when fall camp opens next month. Expectations were high when he arrived at Ohio State. This season might be his time to prove why.

Harry Miller-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State signee Harry Miller will be in the mix for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Could true freshman Harry Miller actually compete for playing time?

Well, head coach Ryan Day thinks so.

“Absolutely Harry can come in and compete right away,” Ryan Day said during the spring. “He’s very intelligent and he’s been spending a lot of time FaceTiming with Coach Stud, two or three times a week trying to pick up the offense. He’s still looking over his stuff — even when he’s in another country.”

Miller didn’t enroll early because he went on a missions trip out of the country, but that didn’t stop him from being in on meetings with the offensive linemen. The No. 2 center in last year’s class could be the next star on the offensive line for the Buckeyes. But when?

Are the Buckeyes done accepting 2020 offensive linemen?

Ohio State already has commitments from five 2020 offensive linemen, but it may not be done just yet. In-state prospects Paris Johnson, Trey Leroux and Jakob James have been in the fold for a while now, as has Luke Wypler. The Buckeyes also recently added a commitment from Grant Toutant, who they flipped from Penn State earlier this month.

If the Buckeyes choose to add another offensive lineman, it would likely be a can’t-miss prospect.

Spencer Holbrook

Spencer Holbrook covers Ohio State football and basketball for Lettermen Row. A graduate of Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism, he's in his second year covering the Buckeyes. He was previously the sports editor at Ohio's student newspaper, The Post, where he covered Ohio University football and men's basketball.