Farris ready to tackle new job for Buckeyes

By David Briggs - The Toledo Blade

COLUMBUS — Never mind protein shakes or energy bars.

The fuel that helps power the newest starter on Ohio State’s offensive line is found not at GNC but behind the ice cream counter at United Dairy Farmers.

Every night, senior Chase Farris stops by the off-campus convenience store and orders the same large milkshake — three scoops vanilla, one scoop cookies and cream. An employee begins preparing the caloric monstrosity as soon as he walks in.

“I’m a big milkshake slob,” Farris said, laughing.

Welcome to the club.

A 6-foot-5, 310-pound right tackle, Farris is ready to answer the one question on an offensive line of big eaters with bigger games — a group that cheekily calls themselves the “slobs.”

Ohio State returns four starters from one of the nation’s top fronts: senior left tackle Taylor Decker, sophomore left guard Billy Price, senior center Jacoby Boren, and junior right guard Pat Elflein.

That leaves only right tackle, a position that has become a paradox as a revolving door of stability for the Buckeyes. Farris is set to be the fourth right tackle in coach Urban Meyer’s four seasons in Columbus, following successful one-year stays by Decker in 2013 and seniors Reid Fragel and Darryl Baldwin.

A stopgap himself, the fifth-year Farris believes he will be next in line.

“He’s worked very hard, and this is his time,” OSU offensive line coach Ed Warinner said. “It’s just like some of the other right tackles who came through here. They just needed to get an opportunity.”

For Farris, it is a rewarding final chapter in a winding career.

Remarkably, this is the first time he has spent consecutive seasons on offense. He spent his first four years playing just about every position on the offensive and defensive lines, his role decided by which side of the ball needed more reinforcement. Recruited as a defensive tackle, the Elyria, Ohio, native bounced from defense in 2011 to offense in 2012 to defense in 2013 — he even started a game against Florida A&M — and back to offense.

Last year, he served as the offensive line’s sixth man, proving invaluable in a utility role.

Recall his cameo in the Buckeyes’ playoff semifinal win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. After Boren was temporarily sidelined by a leg injury, Elflein shifted to center and Farris filled in at guard. He overpowered his man on the next play, opening the room for a three-yard touchdown run by Ezekiel Elliott.

It was his only snap of the game. This season, after outperforming sophomore Jamarco Jones during the spring, Farris is eager to turn full-time.

“There’s not a lot of pressure,” he said of joining a line that cleared the way for 827 rushing yards during the postseason. “I just have to go out there with the mentality that these guys have performed on the highest stage and excelled. I just have to play as well as they do. There can’t be any slack.”

That includes in his role as a slob, which means hard work and, yes, a lot of ice cream. The Buckeyes’ linemen began calling each other slobs in 2013 as a tongue-in-cheek poke at the stereotype of the big guys up front.

“We just thought it was funny how there’s a perception that linemen are fat and lazy and want to eat bad food all the time,” Decker said. “I love eating bad food, but not all the time. And lying on the couch? Yeah, I love naps, but we’ll work hard. We thought it was funny, and we decided we were going to say it all the time.”

Farris, for his part, may need to step up his game. He is hardly the biggest eater on the team. That would be Elflein, whose metabolism leaves his linemates jealous.

“We were at a hibachi place and I gained three pounds,” Decker said. “Yet he got double rice and I didn’t, and he didn’t gain a pound. I’m bitter. I live with him, so I see it happen all the time.”

Farris felt right at home.

Asked which side of the ball he prefers, he smiled.

“I prefer to play, but I’d say offense,” he said. “There’s nothing like being a slob.”

By David Briggs

The Toledo Blade