Ohio State football: After bounce-back season, Isaiah Prince ready for spotlight

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The transformation and maturation of Isaiah Prince has been impressive, and the offensive lineman probably doesn’t get enough credit for the work he did last season after all his struggles as a sophomore. At this time a year ago, it was far more common for there to be calls to slide Prince over to the bench than flip him over to that key spot on the left edge of the Ohio State line. It’s a tribute to his work ethic and mental toughness that he responded the way he did as a junior, which now sets him up for an even bigger final season with the Buckeyes.

The expectation is that Prince’s development, physical tools and experience will lead to him switching sides and replacing Jamarco Jones at left tackle. And at this point, he’s earned that right and the responsibilities that come with protecting the blind side of Ohio State’s new quarterback — most likely Dwayne Haskins. There can be no sugarcoating of how much Prince struggled when he first moved into the starting lineup on the right side. While Ohio State’s linemen often have bristled at some of the statistical analysis done nationally for blockers, it didn’t take much numbers-crunching to know that Prince’s issues were a drain on the offense as a whole. But even taking the national evaluations with a grain of salt, they reflected one of the most dramatic individual improvements in the country last season by Prince. That matched up with what was clearly evident to the naked eye each week as his technique caught up with his raw natural size and strength.

There is a lot for the Buckeyes to sort out on the offensive line when spring practice rolls around. Prince and Michael Jordan are perhaps the only two guys who can be safely slotted into a specific position, although at this point even Prince’s move hasn’t been officially announced by position coach Greg Studrawa. Ohio State needs to identify a new starting center, see where Branden Bowen best fits as he returns from the broken leg that ended his season prematurely, and then evaluate a couple intriguing options such as tackle Thayer Munford and interior lineman Wyatt Davis.

But no matter what, Prince has elevated himself into the kind of performer Ohio State can count on to handle a high-profile role. Now it’s his turn to step into the spotlight, this time for the right reasons.

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