Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
The Ohio State football team only lost seven total starters from last season, but three of them were offensive linemen. It will be the job of new offensive line coach Ed Warinner to replace the three former starters and accommodate the line to coach Urban Meyer’s style of offense. The adjustment is bigger for some than others.
Last season, Jack Mewhort started at guard on the OSU’s offensive line, while Reid Fragel played tight end. This spring, Mewhort, a rising redshirt junior, and Fragel, a rising senior, are preparing to take on new roles as the Buckeyes’ starting offensive tackles.
Mewhort, a right guard last season, has moved to left tackle this spring. Fragel, OSU’s second-string tight end last year, is playing right tackle. Another rising redshirt junior, Corey Linsley, is in position to start at center.
Mewhort and Fragel acknowledged that the transition to playing offensive tackle has had its challenges, but had very positive assessments of their own progressions thus far.
“It’s going well,” Mewhort said. “It’s a transition from playing guard, but it’s been a lot of fun just really honing my skills out there on the edge.”
Fragel, who said the decision to move from tight end to offensive tackle was his own decision and not one made for him by the coaching staff, agreed.
“I’m a blocker at heart, so there’s some things I feel like I’m comfortable at to begin with,” Fragel added. “Obviously learning the new offense and new terminology and stuff is a little bit difficult, but I feel like I’m picking up on it pretty well.”
Warinner said he’s been very pleased with Fragel’s progress this spring.
“He’s awesome, he’s the body type you want for tackle, he’s made a great transition, he’s gained weight, he’s just learning how to play the position and he’s come along well,” Warinner said. “All the physical attributes you’re looking for in a guy you’d go recruit (to play offensive tackle), he has them.”
Though there might be difficulties along the way, Mewhort said he does not see the position changes as detrimental.
“I don’t think it’s negative in any way, because Reid’s a great player and we’re getting better as a unit every day,” he said.
Warinner said Mewhort and Fragel have “the body types that we’re looking for in the spread offense to play offensive tackle.” Mewhort is listed at a height of 6-foot-6 and weight of 310 pounds, while Fragel is listed at 6-8 and 298 pounds.
Linsley has never started a game for the Buckeyes, but the coaching staff expects the 6-foot-3, 292-pound interior lineman to be the first-team center this season.
Mewhort said he likes what he has seen from Linsley so far.
“Corey’s great, he’s very cerebral out there, he knows what he’s doing, he’s a student of the game,” Mewhort said. “And he’s always calm and collective and it’s great being out there with him.”
Warinner said he thought Linsley has done a great job at center.
“He’s playing physical, picking up the offense and doing a nice job of communication,” he said.
Mewhort acknowledged that all three seniors are responsible in being leaders of the offensive line.
“With the three seniors graduating last year that were leaders, we’ve had to step up, and guys like Corey and Reid and myself have been the guys that hopefully the younger guys look to,” Mewhort said.
Rising junior left guard Andrew Norwell is the only offensive lineman starting in the same position as last season. Rising redshirt junior right guard Marcus Hall started five games last season while Adams was suspended, but has earned a starting spot this spring.
Warinner acknowledged that the offensive line has had growing pains this spring, but is making progress.
“We’ve got some great kids out there, they’re working hard,” Warinner said. “But we’re a long way away from where we need to be, just because we’re trying to learn new terminology, new techniques, new system and a new way of doing business.
“We’re a work in progress that’s adequate, working to be OK, so we can work to be good, so we can keep working to be really good.”