OSU O-Line Familiar Despite New Looks

Preseason camp has been business as usual for the Ohio State offensive line, which returns four members of last season's starting lineup and several other players with at least two years of time in the program. Well, almost business as usual.

Senior left tackle Alex Boone is known for his ability to keep the atmosphere light around him by showering his press conferences with jokes and irreverent comments, but the goof in Boone was visible for all to see Thursday when he entered the media suites at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with lightning bolts shaved into the dark brown hair on the side of his head.

That brought the inevitable questions about the new look – it turns out Boone and three other players, including starting center Jim Cordle, all are trying out the eclectic new hairdos – but Boone summed up the phenomenon in one short phrase.

"This is called, ‘Camp,' " he said with a grin. "This is just bored of everything. I look good, don't I?"

And so despite outward appearances, the work goes on for the veteran Buckeyes, a senior-laden team with visions of a national championship this season.

There is not much news, aside from fashion updates, regarding the big fellas who will clear the way for an experienced offense that includes All-Big Ten players at quarterback (Todd Boeckman) and running back (Beanie Wells).

Bollman declined to comment on the new hairstyles, but he had no qualms with the work put in so far during camp.

"They're doing a good job concentrating and playing ball," Bollman said. "They're guys that like to have fun, and they're fun to be around and fun to coach. It's good."

Boone is back at left tackle and Cordle returns at center as a junior while senior Steve Rehring returns between them at left guard and senior Ben Person will man the right guard position again.

Person and Rehring entered camp at slightly less than 100 percent as they come back from offseason surgeries, but Bollman said neither has missed a day of practice since the start of camp.

The only new face in the starting lineup is Bryant Browning, but as the sixth lineman last season he had plenty of chances to get familiar with the starters.

Inserting Browning, a third-year sophomore, into the lineup appeals to Bollman and the rest of the starters for multiple reasons.

"He's really intelligent and he has power," Bollman said. "The more he learns about the game, the more quickness he develops."

"He knows the system very well," Boone added. "He got a lot stronger in the offseason, a lot faster. He's a thinker. He's kind of like the opposite of me. I just do stuff, but he actually knows what he's doing and he's playing great football."

That bit of self-deprecation got a chortle from reporters, but elsewhere in the room, Cordle was more serious in his summation of the move.

"It was nice that B.B. (Browning) could step in there at right tackle and we didn't have to move guys around," Cordle said. "They were talking about moving Steve to tackle, but with B.B. stepping in there, we've got the same fits that we had last year with the center and guard, which is huge, and we can get better and we don't have to start over with a new guard."

Where something could be happening this fall is the second string, where there are even more familiar faces than the starting lineup and three highly recruited freshmen hope to make enough noise to earn playing time.

As of Thursday, Bollman identified the second group as, from left to right, Andrew Miller, Kyle Mitchum, Andrew Moses, Connor Smith and Josh Kerr.

Boone said that J.B. Shugarts, a five-star recruit from Klein, Texas, has been the most impressive of the freshmen as he spent some time at No. 2 right tackle while Kerr was out with an injury.

As for Shugarts' fellow five-star frosh linemen, Mike Adams of Dublin (Ohio) Coffman remains out of live action as he recovers from spring shoulder surgery, while Mike Brewster of Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater works as the No. 3 center behind Cordle and Moses.

Bollman said Adams gets closer every day to being cleared for live reps, a day that could come next week.

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