COLUMBUS, Ohio — If there’s such a thing as too much pressure, Brady Taylor would be the perfect test case at Ohio State.
He’s never started a game for the Buckeyes, and he’s vying for a job that Urban Meyer values as much as his quarterback.
He’s a Columbus native who grew up as a fan of Ohio State, and now he’s trying to go out and win a national championship on the field.
And, oh yeah, the last two centers for the Buckeyes wound up as back-to-back winners of the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top player at the position.
So, how is Taylor holding up with all that potential weight on his shoulders this spring?
“It’s really exciting,” the fifth-year senior said. “Just going out on the field, it really means a lot. It definitely was a long journey. I went through a lot, and I think it’s my time to take it over and ball out.
“I think it kind of goes with something Coach Meyer always says. If you replace a good player with someone not as good, the team gets worse. That’s kind of my goal, to be the best center in the nation. I think being behind them the last two years and getting groomed, it’s definitely a goal of mine and I think I can accomplish it.”
Evidently the exterior pressure wasn’t enough, with Taylor throwing his own high standards into the mix as spring camp heads into the final handful of practices. It also started with Meyer publicly issuing a challenge to his centers to step up after watching just one workout, which at the time felt like it might as well have been directed at Taylor directly.
Considering the years he’s invested in the program, the grooming he’s received from Pat Elflein and Billy Price, and his status as a veteran in the program, there was a legitimate reason to expect Taylor to provide a smooth transition for what is shaping up to be a talented offensive line. And if there actually were any rough patches early, it appears as if he’s worked through them and is on pace to take that starting role into the summer.
“He’s doing a lot better,” left guard Michael Jordan said. “He’s doing really well, and I’m really proud of him. I mean, he’s more confident and he’s a lot more physical.
“He was laying dudes out during the last scrimmage.”
The Buckeyes have been spoiled with centers capable of doing that recently. The strength, skill and football intelligence of Elflein and Price set an enormously high standard for future centers, with those Rimington statues serving as daily reminders of what’s expected at Ohio State.
Taylor, of course, has seen all that up close over the last few years. And now it’s his turn to try to make it a triple crown for the Buckeyes, assuming the pressure and a competition with Josh Myers and Matthew Burrell doesn’t weigh him down.
“I think I have a chip on my shoulder, especially being from Columbus,” Taylor said. “This is my fifth year, but this is my first year starting and I think that’s always in the back of my head. I feel like a lot of people doubt that I can do it, but I’ve been behind some pretty good players. I think just having that chip on my shoulder, being from Columbus and being a fan of the team that I play for and just really loving this place, it’s a great opportunity.
“Of course, [Elflein and Price] were both Rimington winners. Just being around them, I think it’s really contagious learning from them and watching them on film and seeing their practice habits. … They were good leaders, and I think that’s really what made them good centers. They really worked with me over the years and got me ready.”
That preparation hasn’t officially been called into action yet.
But that’s just one more part of the Taylor test case that will be fascinating for Ohio State to evaluate.