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Football: Nicholas Petit-Frere comes in ready to live up to lofty expectations for Ohio State

Ohio State then-freshman offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere (77) blocks a Tulane player in the fourth quarter of the game against Tulane on Sept. 22. Ohio State won 49-6. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

Nicholas Petit-Frere came into Ohio State with higher expectations than most linemen before him.

A former five-star prospect out of Berkeley Prep High School, Petit-Frere joined the 2018 Class as the seventh-highest rated prospect and the top-rated offensive lineman in the program’s history, according to 247Sports composite rankings, which began rating recruits in 1999.

But for Petit-Frere, the expectations from the outside world take a back seat to the expectations he has for himself.

“It’s my expectations. It’s not really like expectations of like, ‘Oh, he was rated a five-star guy,’” Petit-Frere said. “Those are my expectations, because it’s like a self determination for me to get better.”

The redshirt freshman offensive tackle comes into the 2019 season with four games played for the Buckeyes, but with his heightened expectations intact.

Ohio State comes into the fall without four of its five 2018 starters on the offensive line, with Isaiah Prince, Demetrius Knox and Malcolm Pridgeon graduating and Michael Jordan forgoing his final season of eligibility to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.

This leaves position battles to be won, and gives Petit-Frere an opportunity to earn playing time.

Known most for his work at right tackle, the redshirt freshman is going up against redshirt senior offensive tackle Branden Bowen, who is coming off a major surgery on his leg.

Redshirt senior offensive tackle Josh Alabi is currently playing on the left side in the absence of junior Thayer Munford, who is out for the spring with an injury, but also has the potential to take the spot.

Despite being his main competitor, Bowen had nothing but positives to say about the player Petit-Frere has become in the past year and a half.

“He’s an amazing player,” Bowen said. “I’ve never seen faster feet on an O-lineman, he’s finally getting that confidence, he’s finally getting the playbook down, and he’s getting to the point where he can really dominate.”

Bowen brings the experience to the spot — the fifth-year Ohio State offensive tackle has 19 games played, six of which have been starts.

But Petit-Frere has the potential, something he might not have believed after his first season.

He said his first offseason proved to be more difficult at the start than for the early enrollees.

As a new recruit, he enrolled in the summer, and was forced to play catch-up with the freshmen who had been there for spring practices.

“It makes them a man, it makes them like really understand how to perform here at this program,” Petit-Frere said. “Summer’s the same way, but like getting two chances at it instead of one, really changes some people.”

After coming in at 271 pounds, or, as Petit-Frere said, 268 pounds with an extra three of water weight to look less light in front of strength coach strength coach Mickey Marotti, Petit-Frere is up to 295 pounds.

This comes as the result of an 8,000-calorie diet that includes six meals a day, which occasionally come in the middle of the night, according to Petit-Frere.

For someone with a fast metabolism, Petit-Frere said this weight gain has been “a constant battle,” but is a battle that has helped to impress Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.

Studrawa said Petit-Frere has had a “heck of a spring” thus far, allowing him to stick the redshirt freshman at the right tackle position while he moves around many of the other members on the line.

Petit-Frere is coming into his second year at Ohio State, but is remaining in his first year of eligibility thanks to the new NCAA rule allowing programs to redshirt players that played in four games or less.

The personal expectations and goals remain the same for the former five-star offensive lineman: do anything he can to help Ohio State win a national title, and play when he is ready to play.

So is he ready to play?

“I feel ready,” Petit-Frere said. “I feel ready.”

 

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