The last time Ohio State and coach Urban Meyer had three starters to replace on the offensive line, the 2014 Buckeyes experienced excruciating growing pains.
Redshirt junior Billy Price was one of those linemates who struggled early on.
In his first game against Navy in 2014, Price was taken aback by the speed of the game, which is something he struggled with early in his redshirt freshman season.
Price said he vividly remembered when OSU surrendered six sacks in the fourth quarter in an early season loss to Virginia Tech. Lessons from those first two games are being passed on to the new group of “Slobs” in 2016.
“One of the biggest things when I played Virginia Tech is things start flying so fast, and if you can’t get control of the chaos and situation early, one thing leads to another,” Price said. “I’ve been there, and the biggest thing is stay calm.”
None of the national champion offensive line members improved more from game one to game 15 than Price. He earned a second-team freshman All-America honors in 2014. To follow that up, he started all 13 games last season at right guard rather than left guard, being named third-team all-Big Ten.
At season’s end, Price still saw plenty of room for improvement.
Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa has been working with Price since the spring on pass-blocking technique and playing to the offensive scheme. The third-year starter from Austintown-Fitch High School in Ohio, said that one subtle change in his technique has made the world of difference and has made him a more confident player.
Already listed at 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, Price said that it’s nice at times for him to rely on his strength against tough opponents.
On Sunday, the team took a vote on who should join captains along with redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett, junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan and redshirt senior center Pat Elflein as the face of the program. The rest of the Buckeyes made it clear that they believe they can rely on Price’s strength and leadership.
Price who was one of four players selected as a team captain to represent the Scarlet and Gray.
“Huge honor,” Price said. “You’re a part of a legacy here at Ohio State to be a captain. There are very few captains and to be a part of that is just an honor.”
Price has started 28 games for OSU in his career.
He and Elflein are the only two members remaining from an offensive line that led the way for 264.4 rushing yards per game in 2014 and 245.2 per game in 2015. Those two will be counted on by Meyer and staff to lead a young batch of Buckeyes back to being the brawn of the offense.
Though Price is a poster boy for the Buckeyes, he said that there shouldn’t be any doubt who is the true leader of the offensive line.
“First and foremost, this is Pat (Elflein)’s offensive line,” Price said. “I don’t want there to ever be a question about that.”
True freshman Michael Jordan will likely be stepping into Price’s role from 2014 as a first-year eligible starter on the offensive line.
Price has spoken to Jordan on multiple occasions, telling him to take care of school and control the speed of the game. While Elflein was recovering from minor shoulder surgery, he counted on his right-hand man to mentor Jordan and other freshmen inside the unit and develop a camaraderie that was present on the 2014 offense.
“I haven’t been in here all summer, so he has kind of taken that role when I’m not in there,” Elflein said. “There’s not a problem having two leaders on the offensive line.”