When two players are fighting for time at the same position, the line between teammate and competitor can become blurred.
For sophomore Josh Myers, who enters his first year as Ohio State’s starting center, heaping praise upon his potential backup and future competition for the starting job in freshman Harry Miller is something he does with an ear-to-ear grin.
“There’s just complicated calls and complicated schemes that we have that a true freshman — who just got here — should have no business knowing and making the calls,” Myers said. “And he’s doing it.”
That admiration comes not just from Miller’s rapid on-field progression, but a bond that has been building since April 13, 2018.
That was the date Miller, a five-star prospect and top 30 national talent, made his official visit to Ohio State. Myers was Miller’s host, and he said he’s been like a little brother to him ever since.
Not quite as highly touted coming into his first season, Myers was still the No. 2 rated player in the nation at his position, just like Miller. Myers said he relates to the expectations his teammate will face, and that Miller has handled it better than most.
After Miller’s visit, Myers said the pair stayed in contact, and would often go back and forth about the offense. Despite Myers never starting a game, Miller couldn’t have asked for a better mentor in Myers, whose teammates compare him to former All-Americans at the position.
“Out there it feels like I have Billy Price back, feels like I have Mike Jordan there,” senior offensive tackle Branden Bowen said. “I don’t even know how he did it, but it feels like he has two years of experience already.”
The tutelage from Myers that began nearly 16 months ago is paying off in spades for Miller, who has already ascended to working with the second string players in fall camp.
Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said he believes Miller can be the backup center, and would prefer it to having someone like graduate transfer guard Jonah Jackson switch over to a less natural position in order to fill the spot in case of injury to Myers.
Myers and former centers Billy Price, Pat Elflein and Michael Jordan all started at guard before becoming excellent centers for Ohio State, but Studrawa said Miller has been able to get a jump because he knew from the beginning he would be a center.
“He’s so far ahead mentally,” Studrawa said. “He’s out there making the checks today on blitz pickup period that I don’t think I’ve ever had a freshman do. Ever.”
On Thursday, Miller became the second Ohio State player to lose his black stripe during fall camp after Jackson. The tradition was started by former head coach Urban Meyer and signifies that a new player has proven they are ready to be a Buckeye.
Miller is just the fourth Buckeye to have his black stripe removed since the spring, and the third true freshmen after wide receiver Garrett Wilson and defensive end Zach Harrison.
For comparison, Myers didn’t lose his black stripe until Sept. 21, 2017, his first year in the program in which he redshirted. But Miller’s advanced track comes as no surprise for Myers, who admitted that his “little brother” already knows things that he didn’t pick up until his second year in Columbus.
“He’s so smart,” Myers said. “I’ve never seen a young guy pick up on the offense as fast as he has, especially as a center. It’s the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen.”