Football Right guard remains a wide open race as season opener nears

Ohio State redshirt senior Billy Price gives his thoughts on battle for right guard at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago on July 24. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing EditorChicago — A month away from the season opener, the Ohio State football team still has several question marks at key positions.Chief among those open spots is right guard.“It’s wide open as we speak, and obviously right guard is as critical a position as there is, so it’s going to be a big battle this training camp,” coach Urban Meyer said in his opening remarks at Big Ten Media Days.Meyer listed seven names who are going to be battling for that spot: redshirt juniors Malcolm Pridgeon and Demetrius Knox, redshirt sophomores Matt Burrell and Brandon Bowen and freshmen Wyatt Davis, Thayer Munford and Josh Myers. “There’s positives and negatives to having seven guys, but how do you get those guys reps and no one has really stepped up and taken it,” Meyer said. “It’s going to be a street fight, especially the first 10 days because you can’t have seven guys competing for that spot … That’s going to be No. 1 on the hit list as we start practice.”The player they are replacing — redshirt senior center Billy Price — believes that even though they are young players, they cannot be counted out just yet, citing now-sophomore Michael Jordan as an example of a young player who came into his true freshman season and won a starting job on the offensive line.“Josh Myers, Thayer Munford and Wyatt Davis, all three of them have ability. They all each bring something to the table that I haven’t seen before, I haven’t seen in a while,” Price said. “(Jordan) came to work last year, he got the position and that’s why he was playing … Perspective to those guys happening, if you show up, you tighten your shoes and you go to work, the position is yours.”Price knows what it takes to step up and take on the starting role as right guard. And so as a senior captain and former right guard himself, he has taken time in between practicing his new role as center to coach several of the younger players as they battle to be Price’s right-hand man on the offensive line.“It’s my job as an older guy to take a young guy underneath and say, ‘Hey, let’s go play some ball,’” Price said. “I’ve had those conversations. Thayer Munford, Wyatt, Josh Myers in particular just being with the freshmen class to just saying, ‘Hey, I need you guys. We need you guys. You’ve got to develop. We need everybody within that room to have their role running, let’s go play some ball.’”One of the freshmen that has stood out to Price so far this year has been Myers. Nicknamed “Tommy” by some of the players for being a “country boy,” Myers has already started to build chemistry with the team and become familiar with the players and rigors of working with the team since he enrolled in January, which Price said has given the freshman an edge.“Josh went through an offseason and he’s continued to develop there as things have continued,” Price said. “I think that because he had those four extra months and he went through a spring, that name is mentioned in (at right guard). And I think that if he continues to develop, if he goes and puts in all out there 100 percent at camp time, it will raise an eyebrow to coach Meyer.”Another player whose name is frequently linked to the starting right guard position is Burrell, who started with the first-team offense during the spring game. Burrell redshirted his true freshman season in 2015 and emerged as an early front-runner for the starting left guard spot in 2016. However, he lost the position battle to Jordan, and was demoted to a backup role.Losing out the job last season to a true freshman, Burrell could have let the loss get to him and cost him further on down the road. But instead, Price said, he has battled through the loss and gained confidence along the way.“You build confidence as a young man too, and I think for Burrell’s case, he’s built a lot of confidence as well as a lot of the other seven that you mentioned,” Price said. “There’s a lot of things that are starting to click for him as he is the favorite from what you’ve said.”And while Price did not voice his own opinion on whom he deems to be the favorite, he acknowledged that Burrell has been considered the likely starter by some out there.“I think from what coach Meyer has said, an article that had been presented, that yes I think (Burrell) is the favorite according to sources,” Price said. “That is not saying that I said that he’s the favorite or that I think he’s the favorite, I just know if I play next to him, we’re going to be okay.”

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