Mewhort, Fragel Fitting In At Tackle

It was never going to be easy to replace a pair of multiple year starters at offensive tackle for the Ohio State football team, and a lack of depth has led the new Buckeye staff to get creative with the selections of Jack Mewhort and Reid Fragel as first-team choices.

A year ago, Jack Mewhort was a guard – starting on both the left and right sides – for the Ohio State football team. Reid Fragel was a tight end for his first three seasons at OSU.

Now, the two are the starting offensive tackles for the Buckeyes in the first spring practice period of the Urban Meyer era.

That's assuredly not the way the new head coach would draw things up in a perfect world, and he admitted as much Wednesday when he said, "We don't have tackles," while pointing out the team was in a bind at that position after the graduations of Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts.

However, the players in question don't seem to mind.

"I'd say I think that's pretty cool," Mewhort said. "We're a couple of journeymen. I've played a lot of positions on the line and Reid was a tight end. I think when you look at it, it's kind of cool.

"I don't think it's negative in any way because Reid is a great player and we're getting better as a unit every day. We stay positive about it and it's a lot of fun."

Despite their inexperience at the position, the two bring plenty to like, which is why they have so far beat teammates Andrew Norwell, Taylor Decker, Marcus Hall and Antonio Underwood for the for those spots up to this point.

Mewhort does have some experience at tackle, as he's played every spot on the line since arriving in Columbus and did make a cameo at right tackle a season ago in the second half of the Purdue game.

The one-time four-star prospect from Toledo St. John's started every game last year as a sophomore, beginning the year on the left side at guard before moving to right guard when Adams came back from his five-game, season-opening suspension.

He reportedly hit the weight room hard during the offseason, taking to the new regime of Meyer and offensive line coach Ed Warinner.

"I just like being out there," he said. "Whatever the coaching staff wanted to do with me is fine with me. Whatever is best for the team, that's the way I look at it. If they think playing me at tackle is the best thing, then so do I. I just go out there every day to work and get better."

So far, he's showing signs of adjusting to the position well.

"He's probably our best, most consistent lineman," Meyer said.

Warinner entered knowing that Norwell had played tackle as well, starting the first five games last year before moving to left guard upon Adams' return. However, the new O-line coach thinks Mewhort is better suited to man the outside spot in the Buckeyes' offense.

"We know Norwell had played out there in a different style of offense than this one," Warinner said. "We have some versatility with some of those guys. That's just where we started them, and I think we have them in the right spots, to be honest with you."

Fragel, meanwhile, is making the change to right tackle from tight end, a definite transition but one he feels he's taking to.

"I guess anytime you switch positions there's going to a little bit of difficulty," the senior from Grosse Point Farms, Mich., said. "But to me, I was always a blocker at heart at tight end, so it was more comfortable for me to switch to tackle as opposed to switching to receiver."

He hasn't looked out of place yet – both physically, where the 6-8, 298-pounder boasts the lean, athletic frame the coaching staff craves, and on the field of play, where he's acquitted himself well thus far.

"He's coming along well," noted Warinner, who said technique will continue to be where Fragel needs to work. "I like where he's at."

Whether Mewhort and Fragel will stay at their current spots on the depth chart through the start of the season remains to be seen, especially with Decker – the four-star freshman from Vandalia Butler – already making a push. But as for right now, Warinner has no reason to make any changes with what he's seen out of the two thus far.

"I like the first two guys that we have out there," Warinner said. "They're still the best two."


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