Ohio State opens its eight-game regular season this Saturday vs. Nebraska and, throughout the past week, plenty of talk has centered around the promising Buckeye offensive line.
Returning first team All-American Wyatt Davis (right guard) has received his share of preseason hype, along with team captain Josh Myers (center) next to him. Much of the conversation then turned to top-rated tackle in the 2018 recruiting class, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and fellow five-star prospect Harry Miller earning starting jobs at right tackle and left guard, respectively.
But, let’s not forget about perhaps the most critical position on the offensive line… protecting the quarterback’s blind side. That slot will be occupied once again by true senior Thayer Munford, a veteran of 26 career starts and 38 total games played the last three seasons.
“I just want to go out there and compete, and dominate, whoever is in front of me right now,” said Munford, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound fully healthy left tackle. “I’m going to have fun doing it but, at the same time, it’s business for me.”
Munford’s “blind side” duty comes with even more pressure than most at his position, striving to keep star quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Justin Fields upright. The Cincinnati native is certainly qualified, however, entering the 2020 season as one of the most experienced offensive linemen in the Big Ten and country. He has hit the turf faster and stronger than ever after dealing with nagging injuries and not being 100 percent healthy as a junior.
“I want to make sure that everyone sees me like ‘Yeah, this guy is tough, he will do anything for his teammates,’” explained Munford, when asked about how this year vs. last year. “This year, I’m going to be showing a lot more. In the run game, I’m going to be a lot more powerful with finishing and sustaining my blocks a lot more. Last year, I wasn’t sustaining my blocks because I was too cautious about my injuries.”
Munford has been named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2018, second team All-Big Ten in 2019 and a “champion” by the Ohio State coaching staff eight times. He was part of a five-man group last year that all played 800 or more snaps up front, helping lead the way for J.K. Dobbins to become the first running back in school history to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in a single season. His efforts helped the Buckeyes finish top-four nationally in both points (46.9) and yards per game (529.9).
With veterans like Munford paving the way, the Buckeyes look to open with a victory this weekend against Nebraska (noon in Ohio Stadium) and continue the momentum into the rest of the 2020 season.