Photo Cred: Calvin Mattheis | Ohio Athletics

Head of the Line: Jake Pruehs Wants Another Crack at MAC Title

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Every ship needs an anchor and for the Ohio Bobcats, it comes in the form of senior center Jake Pruehs.

Pruehs for the second year in a row has been named to the 2017 Outland Trophy Watch List as he is considered one of the top interior lineman in the country. Even though he received the high praise last year, he was still caught off guard by the achievement.

“I’m super honored [to be named to the 2017 Outland Trophy Watch List] and honestly, I had no idea about it,” Pruehs said. “I looked at some of the names and I would have never expected to be on the list again. I’m going to work hard to try to remain on that list the entire season.”

Pruehs credited the preseason accolades to his teammates and the Bobcats’ success a year ago that saw them reach the 2016 Marathon Mid-American Conference Championship Game. He believes a lot of the recognition he’s received is due to being in a successful program.

“Awards like that come along with being a part of a winning team,” Pruehs said. “I know a lot of those awards are given to guys who are on winning teams, but I think there are guys out there who are just as good, if not better than me but aren’t necessarily winning so they aren’t getting the recognition they deserve.”

While Pruehs is focused on being one of the premier offensive linemen in the country, as a senior he’s taking every day one step at a time as he realizes that his tenure in the green and white is coming to a close.

“[Senior year] came really fast and I hope that the previous seasons have prepared me for this one,” Pruehs said. “I know I have to step it up one more notch going into this camp.”

It’s amazing to think that Pruehs and the rest of the offensive line could take their game to another level. Last season, the team averaged nearly 400 total yards of offense per game, 170 of that coming in the running game, but in Pruehs eyes, they can be an even more effective unit this year.

“If there were any hiccups last year, it would be because of one person,” Pruehs said. “We’re trying to fine-tune any issues we may have so that we have everyone on the same page. All of that comes with the comradery and chemistry up front.”

Being the veteran of this offensive line, Pruehs has taken it among himself to be the leader that steers the ship for the Bobcats in the trenches. In a way, he’s embraced becoming a pseudo player/coach.

“I’m very confident in helping some of these younger guys,” Pruehs said. “We’re very experienced as a group but our backups don’t have that experience so we’re trying to get everyone ready so that way in case something does happen, guys are ready to step in and play. There’s a part where you’re behind the whistle and in front of the whistle and both sides of that I really enjoy.”

Pruehs and the rest of the offensive line have set some lofty expectations for this upcoming season, but they’re confident and believe that they can do something for the first time in school history.

“Obviously, there are no good stats for offensive lineman except when it comes to having 1,000-yard rushers,” Pruehs said. “We want one, even two running backs to have over 1,000 yards rushing. Every game our goal is to have a 100-yard rusher with a couple of touchdowns because they’re both as a result of the offensive line.”

If the Bobcats offensive line can deliver on these goals, they will once again be a force to reckon with as one of the preseason favorites in the MAC East. Pruehs and the rest of the Bobcats are by no means content with just one MAC Championship appearance.

“That has been the carrot that has been dangling in our faces all offseason,” Pruehs said. “We got the taste of it, but we didn’t quite get the job done. For me, that’s what you work for all season is long is for a game like that and when you get a hint of it, that’s all you want.”

Pruehs is focused on avenging last year’s loss MAC Championship game but also realizes that he must look ahead to his future outside of Athens. He has professional football aspirations just like many other college players, but he’s very content on wherever his life takes him next.

“I’m fully invested in taking that path to the NFL, but I’m also on track to graduate from the engineering program this spring,” Pruehs said. “However this season takes me I’m either going to go the engineering route or go the football route and I’m thankful for whatever happens.”

At this point, Pruehs does know one thing: the Bobcats are in prime position to get back to Detroit this year and hopefully take a bite from that elusive carrot.