If there is a College Football Playoff this year, Ohio State will be the front-runner to win the title. Especially with returning quarterback Justin Fields, who Pro Football Focus just graded as the highest returning QB in college football with a clean pocket. Fields garnered a 94.0 rating, edging out North Carolina’s Sam Howell,(92.2), Iowa State’s Brock Purdy (91.0) and USC’s Kedon Slovis (90.7).
Fields is considered a Heisman favorite by most experts this year after throwing 3,273 passing yards and scoring 51 total touchdowns as a sophomore last year. The returning QB also returns a few familiar faces from the offensive line to keep the pocket clean.
Left tackle Thayer Munford, center Josh Myers and right guard Wyatt Davis are returning up front. Munford played most of 2019 despite recovering from back surgery. Whether or not his health has improved this year remains to be seen. Myers and Davis impressed in their first year protecting Fields. Myers earned second-team All-Big Ten while Davis garnered first-team and All-America status. Davis is so highly thought of that he is the only active player in the entire conference that was recently selected to the Big Ten Network First Team All-Decade.
Where Ohio State will be fresh this year is at left guard and right tackle. It seems redshirt sophomore Nicholas Petit-Frere, sophomore Dawand Jones and freshman Paris Johnson Jr. will compete for the starting right tackle position. Petit-Frere was a five-star prospect out of Tampa, Florida; Jones appeared in 10 games and 80 snaps for the Buckeyes last year and Johnson Jr. is a five-star product out of Cincinnati. At left guard, sophomore Harry Miller seems like the best option. He is a five-star recruit from Buford, Georgia.
The returning offensive linemen should make OSU fans feel good about both the pass and run game. If Fields has the protection, he should have another monstrous season. In addition to his ability to deliver in the pocket, Fields flashed game-changing plays with his feet. He ran for 484 yards and 10 touchdowns last year.