COLUMBUS – Billy Price arrived at Ohio State in 2013 as a 4-star recruit who played on the defensive line.
With a surplus of talent on the defensive line, he took on a different job description and switched to the offensive line, first as a guard and this season as a center.
Over the last four years he has added two more job titles: ironman and undisputed team leader.
Price, a first-team All-Big Ten selection and a first-team All-American on the American Football Coaches Association team last season, broke the Ohio State record for most consecutive starts on Saturday with his 51st start in a row.
That record had belonged to Luke Fickell, who made 50 consecutive starts from 1993-1996.
Fickell finished the final game in his streak with a torn pectoral muscle that left him playing almost one-handed in the Rose Bowl.
For Price, there were no such close calls. He couldn’t remember even coming close to seeing the streak end because of an injury.
“I haven’t had a moment. I’ve stayed pretty healthy. I try to take care of my body,” he said.
Looking back at the streak that began with the opener in 2014, he said, “It’s huge. You go back in Ohio State history and it’s something not many people get the opportunity to do. It’s a blessing, too.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer said Price was huge in another way in his role as a team leader after Ohio State was crushed 55-24 by Iowa last week.
“As long as I’m around Ohio State, I’ll make sure that guy is treated with legendary status because he’s done everything I’ve ever asked of him,” Meyer said.
“That includes off the field and his leadership when times are tough. Last week, he was the one who took over the locker room. People say, ‘Coach, what did you say? I didn’t say anything. It was Billy Price,” Meyer said.
Price said he was just doing his job when he spoke up after the loss to Iowa.
“I think everybody was kind of stunned from the loss. Everybody was asking what happened. You have to make sure guys don’t start turning their backs and pointing fingers. As a captain it’s my job to keep everybody positive and moving in the right direction,” he said.
Defensive end Sam Hubbard called Price “a special player, a special guy” and said he wasn’t surprised by the consecutive games streak.
“I’m not surprised, just the way he takes care of his body. He’s a freak of nature,” Hubbard said.
Offensive tackle Jamarco Jones said, “Oh, man. That’s crazy. Billy was one of the guys I leaned on when I first got here. He’s a great teammate, a great friend.
“I’m proud of him that he got the record. I don’t know how he did it. That’s a lot of games in a row, especially for an offensive lineman. He takes care of himself and he’s a tough dude. He doesn’t complain about anything in practice, he just goes. That’s the type of guy he is.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.