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Ohio State Buckeyes: Hinzman hoping to build off first season as starting center

Apr. 3—COLUMBUS — Carson Hinzman was a surprise starter at center in the first game of the 2023 season for Ohio State, and a surprise non-starter in the last game of the season.

The sophomore hopes to use both experiences and all the rest from 2023 to become a better player moving forward for the Buckeyes.

Luke Wypler entering the 2023 NFL Draft with two years of eligibility left a hole in the middle of the line Hinzman filled despite being a redshirt freshman barely able to keep 290 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame.

The coaches brought in Victor Cutler as a veteran transfer to compete at center, but Hinzman won the job and held it for 12 games before being benched in favor of Matt Jones in the Cotton Bowl, something the staff told him was best for the team.

"I fully support what's best for the team at the time, that's what it was," Hinzman said Monday. "I don't really read anything too much into it, but that's the decision they made, and all I could do is get ready and compete for this next year."

He is no sure thing to return as the starting center, though, with Seth McLaughlin transferring from Alabama, where he was a starter for most of the last two seasons.

Hinzman could have entered the portal himself after McLaughlin announced his decision, but he chose to stick around.

The Wisconsin native sounds happy he did.

"He's been a great addition to the team, a great addition to the O-line room," Hinzman said. "That competition's been going really well, and I think I've gotten so much better because of that. And I think he can say that he got a lot better as well."

Now weighing 298, Hinzman said he feels stronger and more comfortable throwing his weight around against older, bigger players inside, and his position coach has noticed.

"He had a great offseason," Justin Frye said. "It all started down in the weight room with (director of strength and conditioning Mickey Marotti). His weight is up, he's thick. He's always been an explosive guy, but is now playing with a little bit of power behind that. He's learning to do that.

"It's the natural maturation for all those guys."