Archdeacon: For Ohio State’s Josh Myers, first start a dream come true

Although he is one of the most celebrated and accomplished high school football players ever to come out of the Miami Valley, he said Saturday was like nothing he has ever experienced.

Josh Myers made his first start for Ohio State and after the game — after the Buckeyes had overpowered Florida Atlantic, 45-21, in front of a crowd of 103,228 in the Horseshoe, as Ohio Stadium is known — the 6-foot-5, 310-pound center out of Miamisburg High School felt like a little kid at Christmas

“I’m just so happy,” he gushed. “I’ve been super emotional about this all day. It’s really an unbelievable feeling. This was one of my life goals and I accomplished it today.

“Since I was a kid I just wanted to play college football. I didn’t know where at first. Playing in the Shoe wasn’t a dream of mine until I was a freshman in high school. I committed not too long after that and now…here I am!”

While plenty of kids have that same dream, it was more tangible for him because of his background. He’s from a family of athletes.

His mom, then known as Julie Schaefer, played basketball at Alter, where she’s in the school’s athletic hall of fame, and then played four years at the University of Dayton.

His dad, Brad, was an offensive lineman at the University of Kentucky in the mid-1980s and his brother, Zach, played football for UK, too.

“Yeah, my dad was pretty good. I mean he was a four-year starter in the SEC,” Josh said. “But my mom is the best athlete of all of us. She was an All-America in high school.”

As Julie and the rest of the family waited for Josh outside the OSU dressing room Saturday, she talked about s pedigree:

“He comes from a football family. It’s always been part of his legacy.”

He had a scholarship offer from Ohio State when he was a high school freshman and he committed to the Buckeyes as a sophomore.

By the time is career ended at Miamisburg, he had won first team All-GWOC (Greater Western Ohio Conference) honors all four years of high school.

He was rated the No. 1 player in the state of Ohio and the No. 2 guard in the nation by, No. 3 by Scout and No. 6 by ESPN.

He left high school a semester early, enrolling at Ohio State in January of 2017 so he could take part in spring football drills.

The transition though wasn’t easy.

He had shoulder surgery as a freshman and redshirted.

As he mended and returned, he lined up at a position that had been marked by excellence in recent seasons.

In 2016 Bucks’ center Pat Elflein was awarded the Rimington Trophy, which designates the best center in college football. In 2017, OSU’s Billy Price won the award, as well.

Last season, starting center Michael Jordan won All-America honors.

“I prided myself when I was second team last year behind Mike to prepare as hard as I could,” Josh said. “And this year, once I knew I was going to start, I prepared even harder than I did last season. When I started I wanted to be perfect.”

Friday night he said he was relaxed as he thought about Saturday’s start.

He’d have new quarterback, Justin Fields, behind him taking his snaps and he’d be calling out the offensive sets for the rest of his linemen, but he said he wasn’t worried:

“We had repped so many times that I knew what to do.”

He said everybody else did, too:

“Today, most of the guys knew what I was gonna say before I said it.”

When the team made the walk into the stadium from St. John Arena, before the game, he said he looked for his parents: “I went over and gave them a hug.”

But once he ran out of the tunnel and onto the field for the game, he quit crowd watching:

“I was too focused on the task at hand. I was all business.”

He certainly was.

On the fourth play of the game, he threw a monster block — flattening FAU cornerback Chris Tooley — that paved the way for Fields’ 51-yard touchdown run at the 13:07 mark of the first quarter.

“That was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my entire life,” he said. “(The guy) fell for the fake and as I saw him turn around, I turned on the gas a little bit and got to him before he could get all the way around….And Justin made a good run.”

On OSU’s next possession, he was part of the Bucks’ impenetrable offensive front that gave Fields lots of time to complete a 25-yard TD pass to tight end Jeremy Ruckert with 11:05 left.

That set the early tone and OSU led 28-0 by the end of the first quarter.

“Every time I see Josh run out of the tunnel, I get goose bumps,” Julie said. “But today, seeing him actually snap the ball on every offensive play was surreal.

“We all know what he’s gone through and how hard he’s worked. To see him fulfill that dream today really was a dream come true for all of us.”

When the game ended, the Buckeyes players locked arms near the closed end of the stadium and, accompanied by the OSU band, they sang the “Carmen Ohio,” the alma mater.

It’s tradition and while not always pitch perfect, it is heartfelt.

“Sure I sang,” Josh grinned.

“But no, I’m not good. Not really. But that’s OK. We won, so I’ll sing as loud as I can.”

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