The offensive linemen were a staple position for the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2012. Four junior starters, another senior starter in Reid Fragel, the 2012 OSU offensive line paved way for the 10th-ranked rushing attack in the country a season ago.
Now with four returning senior starters, the offensive line may be the least worrisome group for second-year head coach Urban Meyer in 2013. One glaring weakness and the only question about the unit may be the biggest concern across the entire roster however. Who replaces the 6-foot-8 NFLer Fragel?
That spot is still up for grabs initial reports seem and one thing remains a constant: whoever is plucked to start at right tackle will definitely have some large shoes to fill.
We’ll look at possible replacements a little further down but as for now, as the weeks continue to count down to August 31, we will break down, position by position, what Buckeye fans can look forward to for the 2013 football season. Using last seasons play, spring practice reports, freshman scouting reviews and eyewitness accounts, we will let you know what to count on, look for and possibly be surprised by during the approaching season.
In this installment, we’ll take a look at all the offensive linemen who will suit up for OSU in 2013.
No. 74 Jack Mewhort – RS-Sr. 6-ft-7, 308 lbs., Toledo, OH
Redshirt Senior Jack Mewhort is arguably the most experienced lineman of the whole group as the Toledo native has started 25 consecutive games at either left guard, right guard or left tackle. Mewhort started every game a season ago at left tackle, paving the way for the 12-0 Buckeyes. For the 2013 season, Mewhort was recently named to the Outland Trophy watch list, given to the nation’s top interior lineman. He was also nabbed as one of Meyer’s team captains heading into this season. Over the course of his career Mewhort has started five games at left guard, eight at right guard and the past 12 games at left tackle. It’s safe to say Mewhort knows his way around the offensive line and will be an anchor on the left side for quarterback Braxton Miller. That’s something Buckeye fans can bank on leading up toAugust 31.
No. 78 Andrew Norwell – Sr. 6-ft-6, 319 lbs., Cincinnati, OH
Right up there in terms of experience with Mewhort is fellow senior Andrew Norwell. The Cincinnati native has started also in a team-best 25 consecutive games as they were both selected by the Ohio State coaching staff as co-offensive lineman of the year a season ago. 20 of Norwell’s 25 straight starts have been at left guard as he has also started at left tackle in his first five starts. He has added right tackle experience, playing in 11 games at the position in 2010. Norwell, along with Mewhort, is an offensive player to watch this season as the seniors each were selected to the Outland Trophy watch list. Norwell was also placed on the Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the best college football lineman or linebacker. Ohio State actually holds the record for most Lombardi awards with six and Norwell will look to add to that lead in 2013. Another bit of information to watch for relating to the senior in the upcoming season is that Norwell has yet to cut his hair since enrolling at Ohio State in 2010.
No. 71 Corey Linsley – RS-Sr. 6-ft-3, 297 lbs., Youngstown, OH
Redshirt senior Corey Linsley anchors the offensive line as the center. Linsley switched from guard to center in the spring of last year and proceeded to start all 12 consecutive games in the fall. He was named to the honorable mention all-Big Ten Conference team a season ago despite playing through a foot injury. Although he did not participate in spring drills in 2013, Linsley finds himself on the Rimington Trophy watch list for the fall season. The Rimington is annually handed out to the nation’s best center and Linsley is looking to be the first Buckeye to achieve the Trophy since 2001.
No. 79 Marcus Hall – RS-Sr. 6-ft-6, 315 lbs., Cleveland, OH
The fourth and final returning starter for the Buckeyes in 2013 is redshirt senior Marcus Hall. He has achieved 18 starts and participated in 33 games over the course of his career. In 2013, along with Mewhort and Norwell, Hall was on the line for 827 of OSU’s 837 total offensive plays. That’s 10 total plays missed by the trio over the course of an entire season, a pretty compelling number. According to spring practice reports, Hall seems to be the team’s most improved player and it should not come as a surprise to see Hall pummeling his way to possibly some hardware as well come the end of the season.
No. 68 Taylor Decker – So. 6-ft-7, 315 lbs., Vandalia, OH
Seemingly difficult to replace a player drafted into the NFL, sophomore Taylor Decker is looking to do just that. Decker, despite being only a true sophomore, enrolled early and now has two years of spring drills under his belt. He played mostly on special teams in 2012 and saw some offensive action in four separate games last season. Early on it is clear that Decker is the frontrunner to start at right tackle, but he will have to consistently earn it during the fall camp to stay at the top of the depth chart. Decker looks to be a possible core player and a force to be reckoned with in Scarlet and Gray.
No. 57 Chase Farris – RS-So. 6-ft-4, 300 lbs., Elyria, OH
Pushing right behind Decker is redshirt sophomore Chase Farris. A converted defensive lineman, Farris successfully made the switch in 2012 and saw action in seven games as either a member of the offensive line or on special teams. It seems that Decker has the slight advantage not being the converted defensive player, but Farris has shown promise and is definitely a factor in the long-term goals of the Buckeye offense.
No. 65 Pat Elflein – RS-Fr. 6-ft-2, 293 lbs., Pickerington, OH
Arguably the most surprising player coming out of spring ball is redshirt freshman Pat Elflein. A foot injury shelved Elflein in 2012 as he took a redshirt a year ago. Coming out of the gates hot in spring practice, Elflein showed many why he was rated the 22nd best offensive guard prospect in the country according to ESPNU. Elflein is behind a lot of experience on the offensive line and while he may not make a significant impact in 2013, Elflein will have plenty of spots to show his worth next season.
No. 73 Antonio Underwood – Jr. 6-ft-3, 301 lbs., Shaker Heights, OH
Junior big man Antonio Underwood was also an emerging prospect at the end of the 2013 spring camp. Underwood, a true junior, has seen limited action in his two previous years, playing in just six games in 2012 and four in 2011. He did nab a start in 2011 against Purdue. He was hampered by a knee injury that forced surgery in April and it is not yet known how much the Shaker Heights native will be able to produce in the fall of 2013.
No. 50 Jacoby Boren – So. 6-ft-2, 287 lbs., Pickerington, OH
While fighting for playing time is a tough thing for many, true sophomore Jacoby Boren seems to be taking it in stride, and earning some respect in the process. Given his opportunities to learn behind a bevy of upperclassmen, Boren has notched some great praise from his fellow teammates. He was the overall first selection in the 2013 winter workouts team draft, a competition that emphasizes accountability and competitive drive among Buckeyes. He is looking to take that newfound confidence from his teammates into a successful 2013 year. Unlikely to see much action in 2013 however due to the amount of experience in front of him, Boren is a great member to any team, and looks like his impact will be felt in the years to come at center or guard.
No. 76 Darryl Baldwin – Jr. 6-ft-6, 307 lbs., Solon, OH
Another convert from the defensive line, Darryl Baldwin will look for time at left tackle in 2013. Baldwin, who made the switch from defense to offense in the spring of 2012, played in all 12 games a season ago. While most of his work came on the special teams, Baldwin does have the experience and the size to be a valuable member of the Buckeyes this season. If he doesn’t see a lot of time this year, it should be known that Baldwin could see significant time next year, maybe even achieve a starting assignment in 2014.
No. 64 Ivon Blackman – Sr. 6-ft-3, 320 lbs., Bedford, OH
A redshirt senior, Ivon Blackman will make a push for playing time in 2013 as an offensive guard. Despite a short stint on defense during spring, all signs point to Blackman continuing on offense where he will look for time behind Norwell and Hall. Blackman, a Robert Morris transfer in 2010, has the tools and experience but looks like he’s stuck too far down on the depth chart to make much of an impact in his final season in Columbus.
No. 55 Tommy Brown – RS-So. 6-ft-4, 310 lbs., Akron, OH
Redshirt sophomore Tommy Brown provides a quality back up for the upcoming season as Brown is looking to get his first taste of collegiate action in 2013. After a redshirt in 2011, Brown did not see any action in 2012 and he’ll look to change that in 2013. He was a two-way player in high school at Firestone High School in Akron he was also a decorated shot put and discus thrower in high school. Brown was named his high school’s most valuable lineman during his senior season.
No. 66 Kyle Dodson – RS-Fr. 6-ft-6, 324 lbs., Cleveland, OH
Another youthful member of the offensive line is redshirt freshman Kyle Dodson. Dodson, coming off shoulder surgery he had halfway through the 2012 season was rated as a four-star player exiting high school according toRivals.com. Dodson was also rated the state’s 10th best player according to the same site. With a large amount of seniors on the roster this year, it looks like Dodson will have to wait another year to contribute any big minutes.
No. 69 Eric Kramer – RS-Jr. 6-ft-4, 295 lbs., Cincinnati, OH
Redshirt junior Eric Kramer played in all 12 games a year ago, mainly for the special teams. Kramer is not on scholarship for the Buckeyes but did achieve 69 playing assignments for the 12-0 Buckeyes in 2012. Kramer was a two-year starter at St. Xavier High School but don’t look for any significant contributions in 2013 from him.
Evan Lisle – RS-Fr. 6-ft-6, 265 lbs., Centerville, OH
An Army All-American, Evan Lisle looks to anchor the future wave of Ohio State offensive lineman, as he is the newest member of the group. Lisle was the 3rd rated player coming out of Ohio in 2012 according to Rivals.com and also was a member of the Rivals100, checking in at No. 90. Standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing in at 265 pounds, Lisle will look to put on some muscle in the near future and eventually turn in to a starter and potential force in the future for Meyer and crew.
Football Extra Points Greater Ohio Sports Reporter
Formerly the Sports Editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau