August 28, 2021
Fifth-year senior offensive lineman is also one of six team captains
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Thayer Munford already holds two significant titles on the eve of Ohio State’s 132nd season of football: he’s the Buckeyes’ most experienced player with 45 career games played and last week he was named one of seven team captains.
But on Thursday, he added what very well could be the biggest honor: we was chosen to represent Ohio State with its Block “0” jersey this season.
Because of where he plays on offense – along the offensive line – Munford is prohibited from wearing the number 0. So instead, the equipment staff will place a special patch on his jersey that reads: Block 0 Recipient.
“It’s a blessing to be out here,” Munford said after practice on Saturday. “I love this team and will do everything I can to uphold the tradition of what the Block O means in our program.”
Munford’s story is a unique one. He spent the beginning of his high school career at La Salle in Cincinnati where he was coached and mentored by Nate Moore. Moore would eventually go on to land a job at Ohio power Massillon High School, and Munford followed prior to his senior season after Moore and his wife, Becca, took legal custody of him.
But just as he should have been enjoying a breakout senior season on the football field, Munford was ruled ineligible by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. That resulted in less recruiting attention than many top prospects, but didn’t deter him from landing the offer he wanted: the one from Ohio State.
Five years later, Munford has achieved an on-field resume that includes being named first team All-Big Ten in 2020 and a preseason All-American in 2021. Those, however, pale in comparison to what he accomplish earlier this month when he became the first person in his family to earn a college degree. Munford graduated with his bachelor’s degree in sport industry.
Ohio State’s tradition of awarding the Block “0” began last year and is inspired by one of the all-time greats to ever don the Scarlet and Gray: Bill Willis. A defensive end whose career spanned from 1942-44, Willis was an All-American and national champion during his time with the Buckeyes. He later went on to break the color barrier in the National Football League as a member of the Cleveland Browns and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame.
“The Block O is a badge of honor in our program,” said head coach Ryan Day. “It represents everything that is important to us – fighting to be elite in all that we do. It’s also about accountability and a blue-collar personality. When I think of Thayer Munford, that’s what comes to mind.”
Willis’ No. 99 is retired at Ohio State, and what he stood for – toughness, accountability and the highest of character – are values that the current-day Buckeyes strive for every day. And nobody better exemplifies those traits than Munford, which is why Day and his staff chose him to represent the No. 0 jersey this year.
The People. The Tradition. The Excellence.
COURTESY OSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS