Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is fond of saying he wants true freshmen to play, if they’re good enough to be recruited as Buckeyes they are good enough to play.
That thinking, however, does not usually apply to the offensive line. That position is difficult for 18- and 19-year-olds to adapt to as the physical nature of it is hard on players who haven’t been through a collegiate weight program.
This year, however, it might apply to early enrollee Michael Jordan who has been working with the first team at left guard despite the fact that he’s only been on campus since January.
“He doesn’t know what’s right or left sometimes but at this point we don’t care,” Meyer said of Jordan on Tuesday. “Come in, we’ll correct your work. Enjoy the game and enjoy practice and go be a tough guy. Really impressed with him.”
Jordan is competing with junior Evan Lisle and sophomore Demetrius Knox for the open guard spot opposite incumbent starter Billy Price, who has moved from left to right guard this spring in order to make it easier on others competing for the guard spot as they’re used to playing the left side, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said.
Studrawa couldn’t remember ever starting a true freshman along the offensive line, but Jordan is clearly in contention to do that next fall for Ohio State.
“For a freshman, he could still be in high school,” the first-year Ohio State line coach said of Jordan. “He graduated early to be here, doing the things he is doing, yes I am surprised and impressed at that.
"Right now, effort. he is a big man that is extremely talented physically. He can move, and bend and do a lot of things. Athletically, he can overcompensate for a bad step or bad hand placement. That is the thing that surprised me most about him. And, he is a really intelligent young man. You tell him something one time, and he picks it up really quickly."
Jordan’s decision to enroll early has clearly paid off. The offensive linemen came to Ohio State as a four-star prospect out of Plymouth High School in Canton, Michigan, and has impressed from day one. At 6-6 and 305 pounds the freshman has the size to play tackle, and took reps there early this spring, but with Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Prince book-ending the line for now Jordan’s clearest path to the field is at guard.
With Price moving to right guard Jordan has been lining up next Jones when working with the first team.
“He just goes,” Jones said of Jordan. “He might mess up but he’s giving 110 percent and that’s all that really matters right now. He’s next to me on the left side so try to talk to him as much as possible. If he doesn’t know what’s going on in a play I try to help him about as much as I can. We’ll get that type of stuff figured out but he’s just going hard, so that’s what’s most impressive.”
Perhaps impressive enough for Studrawa and Meyer to go against recent history and use a true freshman on the offensive line.