Dream ’14: The Offensive Line

While offensive line is not a glamorous area of recruiting, it was the focal point of this Buckeye recruiting class. With four starters departing, the Buckeyes needed to build depth and add talent to a very young and inexperienced unit. While the Buckeyes did not land every major target they pursued on the recruiting trail, the coaches were very pleased with the class they brought in from top to bottom. Let’s take a look at the crop of kids Coach Warriner will be receiving, and where they’ll end up at the end of their Buckeye careers.

Brady Taylor
3 Star OT- Bishop Ready (Columbus, OH)
6’5, 276

Taylor was the last offensive lineman to join the 2014 class, but may be the one with the highest upside. His frame will allow him to add around 25-30 pounds, and with Coach Marotti they will make sure that the extra weight does not take away from Taylor’s excellent athleticism. Taylor played both sides of the ball in high school, spending time at the left tackle spot, and also defensive end. He was able to bully several kids due to his freakish athletic build, but when he faces real pass rushers at the next level there will be some technical areas Taylor will need to master. First of all, his punch is very soft which will provide any competent college pass rusher the opportunity to get in to Taylor’s body and manipulate him as they please. Second, while he does do a good job of engaging defenders, he is often too high in his pad level. Most young lineman face the challenge of learning how to properly pass protect in college, and Taylor is no exception. However, his athleticism could easily speed that learning curve and help him break the two deep in his second or third year, after red-shirting his freshman year.

Marcelys Jones
4 Star OG- Cleveland Glenville (Cleveland, OH)
6’5, 325

Really like this kid a lot. Not quite sure what kept him from being a higher 4 star than what he was, but Jones is a very good looking prospect. The first thing that jumps out at you with Jones is his size. He has a college ready body, just needs to redistribute some of his weight to provide him with a more stable frame. The second thing that stands out is Jones upper body strength. Jones will not only pancake defenders, but he does a great job of getting a hold of them and never letting them go. His hands are pretty violent and his tenacity to finish is what you would like to see from a young lineman. Jones does have a tendency to play too high, probably because he knows that his technique can suffer a little due to inferior opponents. Once he becomes more disciplined in that area of his game, I expect Jones to break the two deep very early in his career. Enrolling early only helps those chances of success.

Kyle Trout
4 Star OT- Lancaster (Lancaster, OH)
6-6, 300 pounds

Trout is one of the more intriguing prospects. At 6-6, 300 pounds he still looks very lean and will need to add some muscle to his frame. His athleticism will be a positive attribute to assist him in playing tackle in college, however he will need to improve in certain areas of his game for that to become a reality. Trout is good against the run, but his pass protection skills will need a lot of refining. He plays too tall, his punch is nearly non-existent, and he often allows defenders to get in to him with ease. Trout will be a utility lineman in his career at Ohio State. I don’t see him becoming a starter at the tackle spot unless he does some major reconstruction to his pass protection. Enrolling early will help, but Trout will red-shirt this season, and most likely be a solid depth player for the Buckeyes moving forward.

Demetrius Knox
4 Star OG- All Saints Episcopal (Fort Worth, TX)
6-4, 294 pounds

A common theme with this class is lineman who can move. Knox is no exception to this rule. While he played tackle a lot in high school, you will see Knox transition to the guard spot in college. Knox is excellent in run blocking. He plays with low pad level, and will drive and shed defenders very easily. He will need to add some size to his frame to deal with the level of competition he’ll face in college, especially in the run game. In pass protection Knox possesses a lot of tools you would like to see a young lineman have. He shadows defenders well, and deals with change of direction very well. Solid feet, but he needs to increase strength and usage of his hands. If Knox can harness that, I expect him to compete for a starting job by his sophomore season, and contribute in the two deep this upcoming season.

Jamarco Jones
4 Star OT- De La Salle (Chicago, IL)
6-5, 290 pounds

The one that almost got away. Jones was the prize of this offensive line class. He began to flirt with Sparty closer to national signing day, but in the end stuck with his commitment to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are getting a ready now tackle in Jones. His build is fantastic for the position. He has good length, a solid frame, and is very quick on his feet. Jones does a good job, in run blocking, of keeping his pad level low, and using his lower body strength to violently drive defenders. In pass protection Jones will need some work, but is the most ready now player in this group. His lower body strength allows him to anchor in once he engages defenders. Jones is also very nimble on his feet, which allows him to mirror defenders with relative ease. When he is not able to do that however, Jones struggles to establish a solid punch, and his hand placement can be erratic at times. With one tackle spot being open on the line, Jones will come in and compete immediately for it. If he is not a day one starter, expect to see him in the two deep early and often.

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