Ohio State football: Offensive line is band of brothers

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Garrett Goebel sees the Ohio State offensive line up close every day in practice, so he has sense of their togetherness.

But the defensive tackle chuckled when he recalled that on game day a couple of weeks ago, as the team waited to leave The Blackwell hotel for the walk to the “skull session” and stadium, he saw the five — left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Marcus Hall, center Corey Linsley, right guard Andrew Norwell and right tackle Reid Fragel — sitting together.

“It’s pretty funny, they’re sitting there, all five of them next to each other, in their order of where (they line up),” Goebel said.

That was a little odd, but it’s not strange to see the five together.

“All of us, besides Norwell, were in the same recruiting class, but we just adopted him as being in our class,” Hall said. “We’re just all one.”

It started four years ago, he said, when he, Mewhort, Linsley and Fragel, then a tight end, were on the scout team offense.

“We all had to go against, like, Cam Heyward, Doug Worthington, those type of guys,” Hall said. “So we’ve been fighting through stuff since we were young. And Norwell (a third-year player), he got right along with us as soon as he got here.”

As might be expected, when they get together away from the football facility, there’s often food involved.

“Monday is our off day, so we’ll just go to Roosters and get some wings, man, and watch Monday Night Football or something, nothing too crazy,” Hall said. “We just hang around and eat something unhealthy.”

Occasionally, there are hijinks, like in the summer.

“We used to always go to a public pool … that was always a lot of fun, guys jumping off the high dive and stuff,” Mewhort said.

What wasn’t fun for the team was when several of the five missed the first early morning meeting called by new coach Urban Meyer the day after the Gator Bowl loss to Florida in January. The whole team paid the price for that to the tune of very early morning workouts.

But first-year offensive line coach Ed Warinner has pushed the five so hard since then that now they are considered one of the major strengths of the team.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie there,” Warinner said. “Now they act like brothers. You know how brothers pick on each other, tease each other, joke around, but if anyone else messes with them, whoa, look out.”

It goes for the coaches, too. Warinner is the only one allowed to upbraid them, except for Meyer.

“It’s kind of like a little family,” Warinner said. “And it just keeps growing and growing.”

A major payoff has come on the field.

“When you really care about the guy playing next to you it makes you play a lot harder,” Mewhort said. “That’s just because you know what they’ve gone through, and you care about what happens to them.

“That’s a big part of our success so far. We hold each other accountable. If someone’s down, we pick him up. Nobody ever lets (another’s) head get too big. We always work, and we do it together.”

For the get-togethers off the field, Hall said, there’s no doubt about who is the lead organizer: Linsley.

“He tells us what to do on the field, and he’s the organizer, the one who sends out all the chain messages,” Hall said.

Quite often it’s boys’ night out, whether it’s going to tutoring sessions together, Hall said, or going to grab some wings and watch Monday Night Football, and the girlfriends understand.

“They all know each other,” Hall said. “When we’re hanging out and just want to be us (five), they’ve just got to go somewhere and do girl stuff.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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