What Dawand Jones Brings to Ohio State’s Starting Offensive Line: “He Can Move His Feet Just As Well As Somebody Who’s Not As Big”

Between his colorful personality and colossal physical dimensions, there isn’t much about Dawand Jones that one would describe as understated.

The size possessed by the Ohio State junior offensive lineman jumps off a roster sheet, and his teammates can’t help but crack a smile when asked about what the 6-foot-8, 360-plus-pound athlete brings to the table for the Buckeyes’ front line.

“He’s big,” junior defensive end Zach Harrison said Monday. “That’s the first thing.”

Fittingly, there was nothing subtle about how Jones busted up what most assumed to be the projected starting lineup for Greg Studrawa’s unit for much of the offseason, emerging from presumed second-string status to earn a starting job and forcing two All-Big Ten offensive linemen to shift positions ahead of the 2021 season opener.

That appears to be the plan for the Buckeyes anyway, as redshirt junior tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere said he’s “pretty sure” he’ll line up at left tackle come Thursday, leaving room for Jones to fill the void on the right side. Ryan Day has yet to confirm the move officially, but the longer he talks about Jones, the more effusive the praise becomes for the former three-star recruit.

“We’ll see as we get towards game time, but he’s had a very, very good camp,” Day said. “We’ve moved some different guys around but I’m very, very impressed with his approach every day, the way he’s worked, the way he’s developed over the last three years. We’ll continue to work through and see how the next couple days go, but I’m very, very impressed with him and excited to see how he plays.”

If Jones starts at right tackle against MInnesota on Thursday, that will also mean new positions for a former five-star recruit in Petit-Frere and a player that many scouts and outlets touted as the top offensive tackle in the country entering this season in Thayer Munford, who is expected to move inside to guard.

Jones has won the support of both players in the move, though, as Studrawa said during camp that Munford even suggested it to him, and Petit-Frere said Monday that Jones’ contributions have a broader range than sheer size and brute force.

“I feel pretty confident (in Jones’ ability),” Petit-Frere said. “Dawand’s been having a great camp, had a great spring (camp) as well, really grew into the position and playing offensive line. He’s been a really big juice guy for us when it comes to the offensive line and actually the team in general, of always coming in every single day with a lot of energy, a lot of juice and a big passion for the game,” Petit-Frere said. “And that’s something that a lot of players have revolved around and kind of latched onto, especially myself as well. So we love having Dawand and how much he’s practiced, and he’s done a really good job.”

For Harrison, a player that has likely seen more than his fair share of one-on-one battles with Jones this preseason, the Ohio native said whenever he sees a big tackle, he compares them to Jones. It just so happens that Minnesota has quite a big right tackle of its own in 6-foot-9, 380-pound senior Daniel Faalele, but Harrison said what sets Jones apart from other big bodies up front is his natural movement and speed.

“Despite how big he is, he was a hooper in high school, so he’s got good feet, he’s athletic, he’s not just one of those big guys who can’t move,” Harrison said. “He’s got good feet, and that’s what presents a challenge. Normally when you see a big guy, you only get him to move his foot to move around him. Well, he can move his feet just as well as somebody who’s not as big, so that’s probably the biggest challenge of going against Dawand.”

With five-star class of 2020 tackle Paris Johnson Jr. starting at right guard for the Buckeyes, Ohio State now has four natural tackles playing different positions along Studrawa’s front five. Senior linebacker Teradja Mitchell likened the group to the “Monstars” from Space Jam earlier this preseason, and senior tight end Jeremy Ruckert called it “an honor” to watch the group work.

With the size and speed Jones brings to the table, new starting quarterback C.J. Stroud might just get an extra cloak of comfortability as he attempts his first collegiate pass on Thursday.

“He makes you feel pretty small,” Ruckert said of Jones. “But you feel pretty safe next to that guy.”