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Ohio State 2017 Spring Positional Preview: Offensive Line
By Tony Gerdeman
The Buckeyes will need somebody other than Pat Elflein to lead them onto the field this season
Photo by Dan Harker

Any time you head into a spring only having to replace one starting offensive linemen, you get to breathe a few sighs of relief. But when that one offensive lineman you are replacing is the Rimington Award winner, a few of those sighs can turn in to gasps here and there.

With playmakers littered throughout the Ohio State offense and a new offensive coordinator in charge of making the most of them, the OSU offensive line may be overlooked by some. If there are some of the same struggles this spring that we saw last season, however, there will be no looking past it.

The Players

54 Billy Price (6-4 315) Redshirt Senior
Has 41 starts in 41 career games played...moving from right guard to center to replace Pat Elflein...All-B1G...First-Team All-American...

59 Isaiah Prince (6-7 310) Junior
Started all 13 games last season after playing in nine games as a true freshman...up and down year, struggled with pass blocking at times...
61 Gavin Cupp (6-5 300) Redshirt Freshman
Redshirted last season...could project to tackle or guard...
64 Jack Wohlabaugh (6-3 290) Redshirt Freshman
Redshirted last season...future center...
66 Malcolm Pridgeon (6-7 315) Redshirt Junior
Redshirted last season following an injury...will challenge for a starting spot somewhere on the right side of the offensive line...
69 Matthew Burrell (6-4 305) Redshirt Sophomore
Played in 11 games last season...will challenge for open right guard spot...
72 Tyler Gerald (6-5 310) Redshirt Freshman
Redshirted last season...projects to guard...could compete for open spot...
73 Michael Jordan (6-7 310) Sophomore
Started all 13 games at left guard last season as a true freshman...expected to start at LG again this season...
74 Jamarco Jones (6-5 310) Senior
Started every game last season...Second-Team All-B1G last year...
76 Branden Bowen (6-7 315) Redshirt Sophomore
Played in every game last season on special teams and was also the team's No. 3 offensive tackle...if he's one of the five best offensive linemen this spring, they'll find a spot for him...
77 Kevin Feder (6-9 305) Redshirt Sophomore
Has battled injuries over his first two seasons...
78 Demetrius Knox (6-4 308) Redshirt Junior
Played in just four games last season due to injury...expected to challenge for the right guard spot...
79 Brady Taylor (6-5 300) Redshirt Junior
Has been the sem-backup center (behind Billy Price) for a while now...played in 11 games last season...will likely compete with Jack Wohlabaugh to be the No. 2 behind Billy Price...
NA Josh Myers (6-6 306) Freshman
Myers is an early enrollee and could compete for an open guard spot much like Michael Jordan did a year ago at this time...he is already doing solid work in the weight room...

The Depth Chart

Note: This is a projection of the depth chart for the first practice. There will be plenty of moving around and some players projected outside will move inside, and vice versa.

Left Tackle
74 Jamarco Jones
76 Branden Bowen
77 Kevin Feder

Left Guard
73 Michael Jordan
NA Josh Myers

Center
54 Billy Price
79 Brady Taylor OR
64 Jack Wohlabaugh

Right Guard
69 Matthew Burrell OR
72 Tyler Gerald OR
78 Demetrius Knox OR
61 Gavin Cupp

Right Tackle
59 Isaiah Prince
66 Malcolm Pridgeon

The Storyline

After a chaotic event, one gang of Slobs must come together if they are going to survive the madness that is about to take place. Wanted by other gangs for a crime they didn't commit, the Slobs have to find a way home (i.e. the end zone), and they must do this while also replacing their dear, departed leader. His trusted right-hand man now takes command, but does he have the confidence and respect to pull it off? Can he show this band what it truly means to be a Slob? And can he do this while being attacked from all sides by other gangs, including one that for some reason dresses up like baseball players? Will the Slobs come out to play-ay?

Three Questions

1. Can Isaiah Prince hold off Malcolm Pridgeon?

2. What can be expected of the redshirt freshmen?

3. Can Billy Price pick up where Pat Elflein left off?

Best Case Scenario

While Urban Meyer likes to have a depth chart by the end of the spring, perhaps the best-case scenario here would be offensive line coach Greg Studrawa having too many viable options at right guard to choose one already in spring. The same could be said for Isaiah Prince and Malcolm Pridgeon at right tackle. Then, as long as Jamarco Jones, Billy Price, and Michael Jordan are fine, this would seem like a nearly ideal situation.

Worst Case Scenario

The worst-case scenario here would be Billy Price struggling and Michael Jordan having a sophomore slump. Combined with uncertainties at right tackle and right guard, there may come a time at some point this spring where you'll want to panic significantly.

One Good Spring Prediction

Isaiah Prince leaves the spring as the No. 1 at right tackle.

One Bad Prediction

Six-foot-nine Kevin Feder skips spring football in order to help out the basketball team when Trevor Thompson gets into early foul trouble.

One Okay Prediction

Malcolm Pridgeon leaves the spring as the No. 1 at right guard.

Something to Watch For

Because we all expect Billy Price to be just fine, there are two main things to watch with the offensive line, and that's the right guard competition and the possible battle between Malcolm Pridgeon and Isaiah Prince. There is no shortage of candidates at right guard, which means this could end up being a pretty time-consuming competition. Imagine it being like sitting at the BMV and waiting for your number. Right tackle, meanwhile, will be interesting because the offense is invested in Isaiah Prince and he has more experience than most third-year offensive linemen. Malcolm Pridgeon sees himself as a tackle and if he's better than Prince, then you've got to find out if Prince can play guard. So then some of that investment in Prince last year at right tackle immediately gets thrown away. That's why I expect them to let Prince build on last season and he'll be the guy at right tackle all spring. Pridgeon, meanwhile, will have to show his worth wherever the opportunities come.

Reason for Optimism

Ohio State has four offensive linemen returning, so that says it all right there. They are also replacing the Rimington winner with the guy who spent three seasons next to Pat Elflein learning all along the way. Billy Price and Jamarco Jones are All-America candidates, and Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince are All-B1G candidates. There are a number of possibilities at right guard, so the cream should rise to the top there as well.

Reason for Pessimism

Replacing a three-year starter at center is always a blow, so how much will the Buckeyes stagger after taking such a shot? Also, those four returning starters were responsible for allowing nearly three sacks per game in conference play. This is Greg Studrawa's second year with this group, so there should be some improvement, but it only takes one breakdown for a play to blow up. Also, there are now some third- and fourth-year players who have struggled to make a mark. These are guys who should be leaders by this point.

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