Thayer Munford is returning for a fourth season as Ohio State’s starting left tackle.
Munford announced Saturday that he will stay at Ohio State for one more season, utilizing the additional year of eligibility providing to all players by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am finishing what I started!! Time to go back to work pic.twitter.com/8dRDEPh9GH
— Thayer Munford Jr (@TMunford75) January 16, 2021
After Munford accepted a Senior Bowl invitation earlier in December, it was widely expected he would enter the 2021 NFL draft. Under normal circumstances, Munford would have already exhausted his eligibility this past season.
Having been Ohio State’s starting left tackle for the past three seasons, he’s already played well enough to solidify himself as an NFL draft pick – especially this past season, when Pro Football Focus graded him as the fourth-best Big Ten offensive tackle (behind three first-round NFL draft picks) since they’ve been grading players.
Highest-graded Big Ten OT seasons:
1. Jack Conklin, MSU (’15) – 94.6
2. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin (’16) – 92.3
2. Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (’19) – 92.3
4. Thayer Munford, Ohio State (’20) – 91.8 pic.twitter.com/x4R75D4OlP
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 13, 2021
By returning to Ohio State for another year, though, he’s positioned to be one of the clear-cut leaders of the 2021 Buckeyes, and he’ll get one more shot at trying to win a national championship. Following the Buckeyes’ 52-24 loss to Alabama in Monday’s national championship game, Munford was one of the final players to leave the field and appeared to take the loss as hard as anyone, and defensive end Jonathon Cooper – who walked off the field with Munford after the game – said he told Munford to “get there next year.“
Coming back to school will also give Munford the opportunity to be the first person in his family to get his college degree, fulfilling a promise he made to his family and himself.
“For the last 4 years i have been so close to lift up that trophy but came up so short,” Munford said in his announcement. “I am coming back for another year to achieve my goal and getting my degree that I have promise my family and my self that I will get my degree before I leave. I’m sticking with that promise that I have made.”
With Munford’s return, Ohio State is now set to return both of its starting offensive tackles for 2021, as Munford will be a fourth-year starter at left tackle while Nicholas Petit-Frere will be a second-year starter at right tackle. Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones, who were viewed as the leading candidates to replace Munford in the lineup, could now be among the candidates to start at guard next season.