COLUMBUS — The guy on the left for Ohio State was supposed to be gone. The one on the right could have followed him out the door.
Instead the Buckeyes hit what amounts to an offensive-line jackpot and gets to keep them both for another year.
Good luck finding another unit with a better combination of veteran experience and elite ability than the one the Buckeyes will unleash with Thayer Munford cashing in his bonus year of eligibility and Nicholas Petit-Frere putting off the NFL Draft following his breakout campaign. Ohio State had backup plans in case it needed to replace those starters on the edge — and it was a welcome surprise that it didn’t need to use them.
“They were two of the best tackles in the country last year,” offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said in the spring. “They proved it. They’re growing. They can help those guys inside.
“And to have two guys on the edge like those two guys that can protect those young quarterbacks, that was really what I thought was going to be the best for us.”
The Buckeyes were obviously bracing for the expected departure of Munford before the NCAA offered a blanket waiver for an extra season of eligibility due to COVID, allowing him to extend his career and become a four-year starter with a degree in hand. And they were aware of the possibility that Petit-Frere could have turned pro after a productive season that offered clear reminders why he was once the nation’s top-ranked recruit at his position.
If Ohio State needed to turn to Paris Johnson and perhaps Dawand Jones at tackle this year, it had plenty of confidence in the next wave. But as talented as those young blockers, there’s no substitute for experience — and the Buckeyes are loaded with it in two of the most important positions on the field.
And they aren’t done growing yet, either.
“I’m not satisfied with where I’m at right now yet,” Munford said. “I’ve got to keep building myself, my mental state and my technique, too.”
The fact that he and Petit-Frere want to do it with the Buckeyes works just fine for them. And it’s a bonus that could easily pay off with another trip to the College Football Playoff.
What makes Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere so valuable for Ohio State? How much does the return of those veterans improve the Buckeyes? Where can those tackles get better this season? Former Ohio State tackle Reid Fragel was back in the Lettermen Row film lab answering those questions and more in the latest episode of BuckIQ.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.