For now, senior Reid Fragel has an edge over freshman Taylor Decker in the fight for Ohio State football’s right tackle position, but the battle isn’t over yet.
OSU released its depth chart for Saturday’s season-opening game against Miami (Ohio) Monday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, and while Fragel won the job, Decker will still see time at both the right and left tackle positions for OSU as the first man off the bench at tackle.
Co-defensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner also said that the starting spot remains a “fluid situation” and he will continue to monitor both players’ performance in the days and weeks to come.
Should either Fragel or Decker play well and the other not, Warinner said, the players might flip spots on the depth chart at right tackle.
If only for the Buckeyes’ season opener against the RedHawks, Fragel has proved himself worthy of starting.
“We’ve had a great battle at the right tackle position all during training camp,” Warinner said Monday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “Reid Fragel, Taylor Decker – they are, we think, both going to be really good players for us. Reid is just a little bit ahead, and so he’ll get the nod this Saturday as the starter.”
In the end, Fragel’s experience helped separate him from Decker in a tight competition, Warinner said.
“Very close race there in terms of there isn’t a lot of separation there,” Warinner said. “Reid’s just older and a little more veteran and just a little more ready to go.”
Fragel, formerly a pro-style tight end, volunteered to change positions after first-year coach Urban Meyer was hired for OSU’s coaching job in November, but wound up in a battle with Decker, a 6-foot-10, 310-pound first-year player from Vandalia, Ohio.
Meyer had previously said that OSU wasn’t functional at the right tackle and that the battle was not one being waged between potential all-Big Ten players.
Now, with Fragel slotted to start and Decker coming off the bench, Warinner thinks highly enough of Decker’s progression that he will get the first-year player into the game when the situation is right.
“I’ll pick out a spot early on where I’m going to put him in the game unless, you know, they punt the ball to us and we’re coming off the 2-yard line,” Warinner said. “I might not put him in there for that being the first play of his college career. But, you know, if we have decent field position and it’s early in the game and we have a decent feel for what they’re doing defensively, I’ll throw him in there.
“I trust (Decker) and we trust him and he’ll be a good player for us. He’ll play all year.”
And remember, playing all year could also mean seizing the starting right tackle position for himself.
“I anticipate both (Fragel and Decker) playing pretty well, so, I just think you’ve got to be ready with three tackles there and getting them game experience,” Warinner said. “There are certain strengths that one has that the other doesn’t and visa versa … they’re not mirrored players by any means.”
Fragel and Decker were not made available for comment Monday.
OSU’s Saturday game against Miami (Ohio) at Ohio Stadium is scheduled to kick off at noon.