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2016 OSU Spring Forecast: Offensive Line
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — This is going to be a very enlightening spring for the Ohio State offensive line because not only will the Buckeyes have to replace three starters, but this will be our first good look at the redshirt freshmen from a highly-regarded offensive line haul in the 2015 recruiting class.

Urban Meyer's confidence is high in the 2016 lineup because of the outstanding recruiting the last few years, but until the young linemen are faced with the constant pressure of having to produce, you never really know what you have.

The good news for the Buckeyes is that the starting lineup is pretty well known, but that doesn't mean any of the new projected starters can take it easy. Spring is when jobs are won, and that doesn't mean it has to be the guys who were running with the ones on the first day of camp.

Depth Chart

LT - Isaiah Prince / Branden Bowen / Michael Jordan
LG - Billy Price / Matt Burrell / Tyler Gerald
C - Pat Elflein / Brady Taylor / Grant Schmidt
RG - Evan Lisle / Demetrius Knox / Matt Burrell
RT - Jamarco Jones / Kyle Trout / Kevin Feder

Departed: LT Taylor Decker, RT Chase Farris, C Jacoby Boren
Early Enrollees: Tyler Gerald, Michael Jordan
Freshmen Enrolling in Summer: Malcolm Pridgeon, Gavin Cupp, Jack Wohlabaugh

Expectation

The Buckeyes are expected to be strong up the middle with the move of Pat Elflein to center. He will then be flanked by Billy Price at one of the guard spots, likely left guard. Meanwhile, the coaches believe there is enough talent on hand to find a guard on the other side. The two tackle spots should be handled by Isaiah Prince and Jamarco Jones, neither of whom redshirted as true freshmen because of how much they impressed the staff early on.

In terms of depth, the Buckeyes could have 14 scholarship linemen participating in spring camp, which is a very good number. Each of those linemen were highly-coveted recruits, and now is the time for at least 10 of them to start playing like it.

Storyline to Watch

I am simply interested in seeing how the 2015 recruits look. Where is Branden Bowen lining up? Where is he on the depth chart? Where is Kevin Feder? Can Matt Burrell win the right guard job? Can Grant Schmidt make a move during his second spring camp? There are a lot of people who loved this offensive line recruiting haul, and this will be their first real chance to finally fight for an integral spot on the team.

Quotable

"I’ve been out here doing drills with Jimmy Cordle, he’s our G.A. and he’s a Super Bowl champ at center. Corey Linsley’s back. I’ve been working with him. He starts for the Packers at center. Just working on drills and footwork. It’s not too different, but just having the ball in your hand and the stance is a little different. I feel like it’s going great. I’ve lost a little weight. I’m quicker, stronger. So I feel like it’s going to be a great transition. I’m ready. I’m excited about it." — Pat Elflein on the move from guard to center.

Number to Know

6'5.5" and 308.5 pounds. That is the average height and weight of OSU's scholarship offensive linemen this spring.

Question Needing an Answer

Can Isaiah Prince handle life in isolation at left tackle? Everybody knows the responsibility that a left tackle has, and the Buckeyes have had some good ones over the years. However, they haven't had a sophomore starting full time at left tackle since Alex Boone 10 years ago. You only have to watch Prince in practice for a few minutes to realize that he is exceedingly nimble for his frame and his potential is immense. Still, until he does it, we won't know that he can.

Best Case Scenario

The best case for the Buckeyes is for Isaiah Prince and Jamarco Jones to look like a pair of talented veterans at left and right tackle, respectively. If that happens, then everything else will take care of itself. Ohio State certainly has enough talented options to find a viable right guard, so even though that may be the biggest question mark, it isn't necessarily a worry. As long as Prince and Jones come through, and Pat Elflein and Billy Price stay cool, then that is the kind of spring that new offensive line coach Greg Studrawa can work with.

Anything Else?

Even though the Buckeyes are replacing three starters, for the most part they'll be doing it with guys who have some mileage on them. Jamarco Jones is a junior, Evan Lisle is a redshirt junior, Demetrius Knox is a redshirt sophomore, so they aren't just being given responsibilities right off of the street. And for Isaiah Prince and Matt Burrell, they may be second-year guys, but they were two of the best offensive linemen in the 2015 recruiting class. So, basically, for players who may not necessarily have age, they certainly have the kind of talent that won't keep them on the bench for long.

To Answer Your Question

No, I don't expect junior college transfer Malcolm Pridgeon to come in this summer and win a tackle job over Jamarco Jones or Isaiah Prince. However, if Pridgeon is one of the five best offensive linemen on the team, then they will get him in the lineup somehow, even if it means sliding a tackle inside.

Quarterback Forecast

Running Back Forecast

Wide Receiver/Tight End Forecast
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