April 2, 2010

Still a lot to be learned at left tackle

COLUMBUS, Ohio - When Ohio State junior left tackle Mike Adams stepped onto the field Thursday in the Buckeyes' spring practice opener, it looked as if he had the inside shot at winning the starting job.

On Friday, however, it became quite apparent that the competition is still in full force when Andy Miller - last year's starter at the position - took the field with the ones.

Ohio State offensive line coach Jim Bollman echoed that sentiment when he met with reporters right after the Buckeyes second practice on Friday.

"I'd say it's wide open," Bollman said in regards to the race for the starting left tackle spot. "I hope you guys know that we're not afraid to play who we think is the best guy."

While it may seem as if it is a two-man race for perhaps the most important spot on the offensive line, Bollman said he plans on getting right tackles J.B. Shugarts and Marcus Hall involved in the reps on the left side.

Adams repped with the second team on Friday, but spent quite a bit of time on the right side, too. So one could infer Bollman and the rest of the offensive coaching staff isn't looking specifically for right and left, but rather the two best tackles on the team.

"At different times we'll just keep rolling those guys throughout there until we feel like we're settled," Bollman said. But it's nice that we have four guys that have some experience and we'll see how things evolve. There are four guys that will play at left tackle before the spring is over."

It seemed as if four of the five spots on the offensive line were all but settled heading into spring camp, especially because Shugarts started 10 games at right tackle seemingly without a hitch.

Though popular assertion is that the Buckeye coaching staff is concerned with figuring out who will be the starter at the left tackle position come the commencement of fall camp, but Bollman said that wasn't necessarily true.

In fact, Bollman is just concerned with gauging what each of the four tackles can accomplish in the 15 practices during the course of the spring.

"I would like to know who has the potential to be (the starting left tackle)," Bollman said. "I don't think it is ultra important that we know (the starter) before we leave."

Adams has fallen victim to some bad luck and created some tough times for himself thus far in his career. In his freshman season with the Buckeyes Adams had some injury issues, but lost quite a bit of steam in fall camp last season with some off-the-field issues.

Because he was suspended for the first two games of last season, Miller began the year as the starting left tackle. But after falling ill with the flu, Adams found the starting role in the fourth week of the season.

Add a little Jim Cordle in at left tackle to close out the season and you have the hodgepodge waiting for the Buckeye staff with this position battle now.

Bollman indicated that Adams, now looking slim at roughly 305 pounds, has done all the right things during winter workouts in terms of conditioning and putting himself in the right position come the spring.

But Miller - and now possibly Shugarts and Hall - will have something to say come the competition that could carry over into the fall. The Buckeyes first two days were without pads, but a lot could be found out come the remainder of spring practice when the practices are conducted at full contact.

Bollman was just happy to have health and depth as they begin the journey of shaping the offensive line this spring.

"I think it is evident that there are a lot of guys that have experience. There are seven to be specific," Bollman said. "You add a couple guys who redshirted who look like they have some potential, we could have a chance, barring injury, to have a little bit of depth this year."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at [email protected].

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