Huge OL Class Critical for Buckeyes

Offensive line recruiting has been an oft-debated topic over the years at Ohio State, but Urban Meyer sounded like a man who has finally gotten the numbers he wants for the critical position group.

Ohio State signed six offensive linemen this year, more than any single year since at least 1988, and head coach Urban Meyer made it sound as if the Buckeyes had no choice but to make such history.

"We were holding our breath this year because we were down to the nubs as far as what was left, and we needed this kind of haul," Meyer said. "In there, there's guys more game ready than others because of the amount of experience they had, and the quality and competition, and those type of things. You need offensive linemen, a little like D-line, it takes a couple of years to get going."

The head coach praised the athleticism of this group, which consists of four-star prospects Isaiah Prince of Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt and Matthew Burrell of Woodbridge (Va.) Hylton and three-stars Brandon Bowen of Draper (Utah) Canyon Corner, Kevin Feder of Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep, Mirko Jurkovic from IMG Academy in Florida and Grant Schmidt of Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt.

"The offensive line, we don't have the tall, long guys," Meyer said. "We're 6-6, 6-7, 6-7, and 6-9, three or four tackles that we needed (in this class), we're short at that position. Especially with (Kyle Dodson) not being allowed to play football anymore because of his injuries."

While Ohio State is set to have 18 scholarship offensive linemen on the roster for 2015, almost two-thirds of those players will be in their first or second year of college. The starting lineup is set to include four returnees, but virtually no one else coming back has much game experience aside from seniors Joel Hale and Chase Farris, who are both former defensive linemen.

That is still a much better situation overall than last season when position coach Ed Warinner turned a group with four new starters and only one senior who had spent most of his career on the other side of the ball into one of the best in the country, but it leaves the Buckeyes with a lot of questions for the future. The coaches will need to get some preliminary answers before the bulk of this starting group graduates over the next two years.

"We made some mistakes when we first got here," Meyer said. "We had a couple of guys not work out. And Coach Warinner is a magician taking guys that really never played football and making them NFL-type players. He's the best I've ever been around, I've never seen anything like that."

Dodson, a former four-star recruit who battled shoulder and neck ailments, is the second member of the Meyer's first Ohio State offensive line recruiting class not to pan out. 2012 classmate Joey O'Connor transferred, while off-the-field issues derailed 2013 signee Tim Gardner's Ohio State career before it began.

That came on the heels of a final Jim Tressel offensive line recruiting class that was a complete wash with four players who started a combined one game. None of them will make it to a fifth year in the program, but the move of multiple players from other positions has helped patch those holes the past two years.

With a large contingent of youngsters vying for three or four spots in the two-deep, Meyer and Warinner hope to find out early if they have the material to seal the driveway or enough to pave a whole new road in the future.


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