COLUMBUS — When Ohio State recruited Reid Fragel four years ago, one of the reasons suggested for the Buckeyes getting his signature on a national letter of intent was that unlike some other schools, they weren’t going to try to convert him from tight end to the offensive line.
Four years later, he’s Ohio State’s starting right tackle and says he wouldn’t want it any other way.
Fragel made the switch in January after Urban Meyer took over as OSU’s coach. He had started nine games and caught only 14 in three seasons at tight end. And at 6-foot-8, 280 pounds, he already had an offensive lineman’s frame.
Asked earlier this week if he had any second thoughts about the move, Fragel said, “Not at all. I love the position. I like the challenge of it.”
Meyer didn’t name Fragel as a starter until the week before Ohio State’s opener. Until then he was competing with true freshman Taylor Decker for a starting job.
During preseason practice, Meyer described Fragel and Decker’s head-to-head competition this way: “It’s a battle and it’s not a battle of All-Big Tens. It’s guys that are still learning.”
After Ohio State’s 29-15 win over Alabama-Birmingham last Saturday, the OSU coach upgraded his assessment of Fragel’s play considerably.
“He played very well. It was his best game of the year, really the best of his career,” Meyer said.
Fragel also called it his best game at tackle. “There are still some things I have to work on. There were moments where I felt more comfortable than ever at the position. I think overall that was the most comfortable I’ve been at right tackle,” he said.
Fragel, who is up to 310 pounds, was one of the stars of the offensive highlights film Meyer showed the team on Sunday.
“It was just basically a Reid Fragel show,” center Corey Linsley said.
Ohio State’s offensive line will be on center stage this week at Michigan State. The Spartans sacked OSU quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman nine times during a 10-7 win at Ohio Stadium last season.
Ohio State was held scoreless in that game until Bauserman threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Evan Spencer with 10 seconds to play.
Defensive end William Gholston and linebackers Denicos Allen, Chris Norman and Max Bullough are all back from last year’s Michigan State defense. They combined for five sacks and 9.5 tackles for losses against OSU.
Playing Michigan State is something special for Fragel, who grew up in Grosse Pointe, Mich.
The Spartans were probably Ohio State’s biggest competition to sign Fragel out of high school and his father played for Michigan State before transferring to Northern Michigan.
“We’re definitely looking forward to the rematch. We’re all definitely hurting from last year’s loss,” he said.
“It’s a game I’ve been looking forward to. It’s my home state.
I’ll have friends and family there. It’s a team I watched when I was growing up. It’s a game I’ve had circled for a while.”