March 22, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – This time last year the Ohio State defensive line featured five different players with 10 or more career starts and 78 combined starts while the offensive line had just two and 33, respectively. Those numbers have reversed themselves in 2013.

Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner has four senior starters returning along the line – LT Jack Mewhort, LG Andrew Norwell, C Corey Linsley and RG Marcus Hall – and 81 combined games started with Mewhort and Norwell having started 25 apiece followed by Hall with 18 and Linsley with 12.

Meanwhile, defensive line coach Mike Vrabel is overseeing a position group that lost four outstanding starters from 2012, including Big Ten defensive player and lineman of the year John Simon, projected first-round NFL Draft pick Johnathan Hankins, co-captain Garrett Goebel and NFL Combine invitee Nathan Williams.

Both coaches and some of their players met with the media after Thursday’s practice, a full-pads, thud-contact affair inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and No. 4 out of 15 this spring.

All Along the O-Line Notes …
Right tackle, minus second-team all-Big Ten pick Reid Fragel, is the open spot along the offensive line and Thursday 6-7, 315-pound sophomore Taylor Decker and 6-4, 300-pound third-year sophomore Chase Farris continued to share space there. … Decker and fourth-year juniors Darryl Baldwin and Eric Kramer all saw special teams action in 12 games last year. … Decker’s 51 plays from offensive sets are most, outside of the four starters. … Younger players vying for positions this spring on the two-deep chart include Antonio Underwood, Tommy Brown, Jacoby Boren, Kyle Dodson and Pat Elflein. … True freshmen OL recruits on campus later this summer will be Tim Gardner (6-5, 320 from Indianapolis and Lawrence Central) and Evan Lisle (6-6, 290 from Centerville [Ohio] H.S.).

Season-Long Starters: Not That Rare
It really isn’t that rare for five offensive linemen to start every game of a season, like Ohio State’s five did last season. It was the sixth time in the last 20 years an Ohio State offensive line had consistent good play, good fortune and good health all season long. Here is a look at the years:

(Year – LT, LG, C, RG, RT)

  • 2012 – Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Reid Fragel
  • 2010 – Mike Adams, Justin Boren, Mike Brewster, Bryant Browning and J.B. Shugarts
  • 2007 – Alex Boone, Steve Rehring, Jim Cordle, Ben Person and Kirk Barton
  • 1998 – Tyson Walter, Rod Murphy, Kurt Murphy, Ben Gilbert and Brooks Burris
  • 1995 – Orlando Pace, Jamie Sumner, Juan Porter, LeShun Daniels and Eric Gohlstin
  • 1994 – Orlando Pace, Jamie Sumner, Juan Porter, LeShun Daniels and Korey Stringer

    Some D-Line News and Numbers
    There are only nine combined career starts along the defensive line with fourth-year junior J.T. Moore leading all players with five. The others who have started: Michael Bennett (twice) and Tommy Schutt and Steve Miller (one time, each). … Bennett leads all with 28 career tackles, 6.0 TFLs and 4.0 sacks. … Noah Spence (12 tackles), Moore (10) and Joel Hale (10) are the only other linemen with double digit tackle totals. … Adolphus Washington already has recorded three quarterback sacks among his nine career tackles. … In terms of games played, Bennett leads the way with 21 and is followed by Moore (17), Hale (15) and the three freshmen contributors from last season: Spence (11 games), and Washington and Shutt (10 games apiece). Junior Steve Miller has played in nine games. … Two of the Class of 2013 DL recruits – Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle – are in their first semester at Ohio State and are taking part in spring drills. They’ll be joined later this summer by recruits Joey Bosa (6-5, 270), Michael Hill (6-2, 305), Donovan Munger (6-3, 290) and Billy Price (6-4, 305).

    28 Years Since No Returning Starters
    The last time Ohio State did not return any starters along the defensive line: 28 years ago…the 1985 season. All three starters along the front line from 1984 – LT Dave Crecelius, NG Anthony Giuliani and RT Dave Morrill – completed their eligibility that season. (Note: Byron Lee is listed as an OLB in these defenses.) Every year since 1985 until this season Ohio State has returned at least one starter along the defensive line. However …

    Four New Starters in 1998
    Ohio State has started an all new defensive line once since 1985, though. In 1998, Matt LaVrar was a returning DE starter from 1997 but he ended up not starting any games in 1998. He played in all 12 as four new starters emerged: sophomore Brent Johnson, sophomore Joe Brown, freshman Ryan Pickett and sophomore Rodney Bailey.