What Thayer Munford’s NFL Draft decision means for Ohio State football: Buckeyes 2021 – cleveland.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thayer Munford’s decision to return for Ohio State football has repercussions throughout the entire Buckeyes offense.

For starters, look at the very structure of the offensive line. The Buckeyes could have replaced Munford with Paris Johnson Jr. for 2021. He was recruited as OSU’s left tackle of the future and battled for a starting job at right tackle as a true freshman before the 2020 season.

Johnson, though, also proved his versatility when he stepped in to play guard during the College Football Playoff semifinal victory over Clemson. Ohio State center and captain Josh Myers went so far as to predict Johnson would eventually win the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best offensive or defensive lineman.

Right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, who like Munford graded among the best at his position nationally per Pro Football Focus, has not yet announced whether he will return for his senior season.

Assuming he returns, Johnson likely becomes an immediate starter on the interior. All-America guard Wyatt Davis is expected to follow center Josh Myers decision on Friday and declare for the NFL Draft. If Harry Miller moves to center as expected, Johnson and Matthew Jones project as the starting guards.

Beyond those logistics, Munford adds stability and skill to an offense that will undergo transition at other key positions.

Unexpected returns could help OSU — but not save it — in 2021: Buckeye Take

For whoever starts at quarterback for the Buckeyes this fall — either holdover freshmen CJ Stroud or Jack Miller or incoming freshman Kyle McCord — their next drop-back at the college level will be their first. Retaining a veteran to protect the first-year starter’s blind side should lift the confidence of the entire offense.

Munford also led some of the Buckeye running backs’ biggest gains around the left side in 2020. True freshmen TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor, as well as holdover Master Teague, can follow that blocking to help OSU maintain its balance in 2021.

Munford said his return was motivated by two goals — to finish his degree and take one more shot at a championship. That decision helps ensure the Buckeyes can extend their control over the Big Ten and make a third straight playoff run.

Get Ohio State Sugar Bowl champs & CFP gear: Check out shirts, hats and more merchandise commemorating Ohio State’s Sugar Bowl win over Clemson, as well as gear on the Buckeyes advancing to the College Football Playoff national championship game.

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