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Ohio State: Michael Jordan return would be huge boost for Buckeyes

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Ohio State center Michael Jordan is facing a decision about his future with the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

Ohio State: Michael Jordan return would be huge boost for Buckeyes

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about the offensive line? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

LOS ANGELES — The first decision has already been made for Michael Jordan at Ohio State, and it’s the one that appears like it could pave the road for his return.

Even with some All-American honors to his credit this season, the junior never truly looked comfortable at center and his future in the NFL appears to be at guard. So, if he comes back, the Buckeyes are more than willing to let him slide back to his natural role, which would force the Buckeyes to break in a new starter in the middle for the fourth year in a row — but has the potential to provide a major lift to the unit overall.

The depth and versatility Ohio State has been building and was planning to showcase never truly materialized last season thanks in large part to a rash of key injuries. That forced Jordan’s move to center in the first place during training camp because Josh Myers wasn’t ready yet for the role. But by the time the Buckeyes were done with practices ahead of the Rose Bowl, it was becoming clear they could build the unit around the rising redshirt sophomore who arrived as a recruit with plenty of fanfare and potential.

Jordan was a rare exception of a blocker who reported ready to play from Day One, because it’s almost never that easy. Myers found that out, guard Wyatt Davis went through the same thing and former five-star recruit Nicholas Petit-Frere spent his freshman campaign paying his dues this season at tackle.

Josh Myers-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State center Josh Myers is in line for a starting role next season for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

So, what does that mean for Ohio State moving forward? The left side could be one of the most stable in the country once Thayer Munford gets healthy this offseason after missing the Rose Bowl, and having Jordan next to him would form a powerful tandem. Myers now has nine more months to develop and claim that center job, and Davis has solidified his role at right guard after holding his own on big-time stages with his first career starts coming in the Big Ten title game and the Rose Bowl. Where it gets interesting and a real battle could be brewing is for the final spot at right tackle.

Joshua Alabi has been productive off the bench and filled in for Munford against Washington, and he would certainly be a factor in spring practice when the competition begins. A healthy Branden Bowen would potentially be an option for that role as well if he can get back to full strength and knock the rust off after two consecutive seasons were short-circuited by leg surgeries. And then there’s Petit-Free, who likely has the greatest upside of the whole group but is obviously still lacking experience.

At this early stage, Ohio State appears to have the makings of a much-improved offensive line, and it can probably pencil in four starters already if Jordan makes his return official.

Certainly a departure would shake things up. But either way, the building blocks are in place — starting with Myers in the middle.

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The solid season at center will help his draft stock after he dominates at guard in 2019.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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