COLUMBUS — He’s a returning starter on an Ohio State football team that doesn’t have many of them and a veteran presence expected to be a calming influence if — or when — that is needed.
So offensive lineman Billy Price was ready when asked what knowledge he would impart or already has shared with the three first-year starters on the O-line and the other 13 first-time starters OSU will have in its season opener against Bowling Green at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
The advice from Price, a starter in 28 consecutive games for the Buckeyes, started out simply.
“Strap in,” he said with a laugh. “And get ready to take media questions all the time. You’re going to be under a lot of scrutiny. It’s part of being at Ohio State.
“As an older guy, I’ve got to make sure these young guys stay calm,” Price said.
Pat Elflein, a first-team All-Big Ten selection at guard last year, has moved over to center this season and Price will stay at guard, where he was third-team All-Big Ten.
Jamarco Jones, a junior, and Isaiah Prince, a sophomore, will be the tackles. Freshman Michael Jordan will start at the other guard, according to a depth chart released Tuesday afternoon. He had been the front runner to be the starter since spring practice.
“Football makes you mature very fast,” Price said. “You have to handle your business, otherwise you have meltdowns as a player and that’s not what you want to see.”
Price observed a meltdown as a freshman in 2014 when Ohio State’s offensive line allowed seven sacks in a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech. But the Buckeyes got past that night to go on to win the national championship.
Elflein has been limited in preseason training camp because of surgery in May to remove a cyst that was causing weakness in his left shoulder. The cyst was pressing against a nerve, and while it didn’t cause any pain, it left him unable to lift even small amounts of weight with his left arm.
“This is the best I’ve felt since my surgery,” Elflein said on Monday. “This week was full go, I went full go on Saturday in a scrimmage. Everything is in line for me to start and play and everything is feeling good.”
Offensive coordinator Ed Warinner says Ohio State’s offensive line is “in a good place.”
“I’m really happy with where that group of guys is,” he said. “Billy has started 28 straight games and Pat has played probably 48 to 50 games for us. Then you look at Jamarco, who was Taylor Decker’s back-up for two years, he’s ready to go. Isaiah Prince is an elite talent guy who has really taken off. And then that last piece we kept looking for, it looks like it’s going to be Mike Jordan.”
Warinner said he is confident Jordan is ready for whatever comes his way in his first college game. “There’s a lot of things to worry about, but I’m not going to worry about Mike Jordan,” he said. “He’ll show up, he’ll play hard, he’ll do what we ask him to do. He may not be perfect in his first game but he has tremendous skills.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.