The Luke Wypler Center lives life with no regrets

Luke Wypler did not follow the conventional path most of his life.

Even the onset of the COVID pandemic affected him differently than most. For him, it provided a needed respite.

Wypler was an early enrolled freshman when Ohio State began spring training in March 2020. Although he primarily played offensive tackle at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey , Wypler was recruited as a center.

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The transition to his new position was difficult. He wasn’t used to breaking the ball, let alone having to block veterans such as Tommy Togiai and Antwuan Jackson.

Ohio State’s first practice in the pads was on the Friday just before spring break.

Ohio State center Luke Wypler prepares to send the ball to quarterback CJ Stroud last week against Toledo.
Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

“I remember I had probably the worst experience of my life on a football pitch,” Wypler said. “I had like three bad shots. I was (pushed back) in the backfield half the time. I remember thinking, ‘What the fuck have I gotten myself into?’

“I was in the Uber on the way to the airport like, ‘Damn, it’s gonna be a long spring ball. I better pull myself together.'”

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Ohio State center Luke Wypler lines up last week against Toledo.
Ohio State center Luke Wypler lines up last week against Toledo.
Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

Even better, he thought, how nice it would be if he could have a few months off to regroup and not have to go back to Columbus for a while.

“I had no idea COVID was just around the corner,” Wypler said. “It was at the right time, to say the least.”

The rest of the Spring Ball has been canceled. Players remained scattered across the country and had to improvise workouts on their own. For Wypler, the few months of absence proved to be a turning point. He knew how hard he had to work to elevate his game and rose to the challenge.

“I didn’t want to come to a school that I walked into on the first day and it was like, ‘Oh, that’s easy,'” he said. “That wouldn’t be fun.”

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He dove into the Ohio State playbook. He made sure to stay in shape and worked on his fundamentals, with the help of an unlikely person – his mother, Michele Desimone.

“She would hold a blocking bag for me,” he said. “She’s pretty much the reason I was able to get better during COVID.”

Luke Wypler’s mother holds a blocking bag for the OSU offensive lineman

During the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, Ohio State offensive lineman Luke Wypler practiced with his mother holding the blocking bag for him.

Video courtesy of Luke Wypler, The Columbus Dispatch

Wypler played just one game that cut short the 2020 season, but unexpectedly became the starting center last year and is now the Buckeyes’ offensive line leader.

“I love him to death,” quarterback CJ Stroud said. “He’s my brother for life. He’s super smart, the smartest O lineman I’ve ever met in my life.

Luke Wypler was “non-stop”

Wypler credits his mother for his brains. He was close to a 4.0 student in high school, is a two-time OSU scholar-athlete, and was an Academic All-Big Ten last year.

Desimone is a longtime nurse, has a doctorate. and taught college courses.

“She’s the kind of woman who worked Christmas, worked every holiday to always make sure her patients were taken care of,” Wypler said. “My mom is just a donor. That’s the best way to describe it. She taught me some of the best lessons of my life.

Ohio State Buckeyes center Luke Wypler calls for protection to guard Donovan Jackson last week against Toledo.
Ohio State Buckeyes center Luke Wypler calls for protection to guard Donovan Jackson last week against Toledo.
Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

He draws his athletic prowess from his father, Al Wypler, who was a linebacker at East Stroudsburg State in Pennsylvania.

“My mom is always like, ‘You’re the perfect combination of the two of us,'” Wypler said.

Luke describes his father as “a man of action”.

Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

“The best compliment I can give him is that he gets things done,” he said. “You can never tell my dad he can’t do something. Whatever it may be, he finds a way to make it somehow, somehow.

This also describes Wypler. He was voluntary from the start.

“Luke was non-stop. Nonstopsaid Desimone. “There was a time when he was about 4 years old when I had to lock him in the hotel room on vacation and sit outside because I couldn’t take him anymore. He’s a very go-getter. He is adventurous and he does not stop.

Luke is the only child of Al Wypler and Desimone, who are divorced. But he has four half-siblings, and Luke said they were as close as any full sibling.

When Luke was 14, he visited his older brother Daniel, then living in Australia, and they went skydiving in New Zealand. When Luke was a teenager, he performed a few times as a comedian in a club. His mother said he is an expert juggler.

Ohio State center Luke Wypler hoists wide receiver Emeka Egbuka into the air after Egbuka scored a touchdown last week against Toledo.
Ohio State center Luke Wypler hoists wide receiver Emeka Egbuka into the air after Egbuka scored a touchdown last week against Toledo.
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch, Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

Luke Wypler ‘kept winning it’

Wypler excelled in several sports as a child, including baseball, lacrosse, and hockey. But he didn’t consider himself exceptionally gifted.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been the best player or the most talented kid on any team I’ve played on,” he said. “I think that always motivated me to improve.”

Ohio State center Luke Wypler hoists wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. into the air after Harrison Jr. scored a touchdown last week against Toledo.
Ohio State center Luke Wypler hoists wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. into the air after Harrison Jr. scored a touchdown last week against Toledo.
Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

Eventually, football became the sport he decided to take up most seriously. He grew up with his mother in central New Jersey, but after college Luke decided he wanted to move in with his father and attend St. Joseph High School, his father’s alma mater. St. Joseph has an elite program and participates in high level competitions.

Wypler enjoyed living with his father.

“It was a bit like living in a fraternity at 14,” he said. “University didn’t really faze me. It was a good time. It was like living with your best friend.

Al Wypler remembers it a little differently. He said he didn’t pamper Luke, and neither did Saint Joseph.

“It was time to grow up, and he did,” Al said. “He grew up. That’s why I think he’s where he is because he was put in a position of “Is that what you want? That’s what you have to do to win it. He kept winning it and winning it.

At the start of St. Joseph, Wypler thought he had maxed out at a Patriot League-level college. Then, in sophomore year, he received a scholarship offer from North Carolina State, and offers poured in after that, eventually including one from Ohio State.

Life with Thor the dog

Wypler was thrust into the starting job just days before last year’s opener at Minnesota when slated starter Harry Miller was unable to play. He’s had it ever since.

“Luke is a typical center,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “He is type A. He wants everything to be perfect. He takes great pride in his work and works very hard. I see him here doing extra work, watching extra movies.

“That’s what you expect from your center because it’s the one that has to bring everyone together. He does a very, very good job of that. You must be a good communicator. You must be able to process high levels of information. You have to be able to make adjustments in the game, and it really thrives on that.

Quarterbacks and centers are often tight. Stroud and Wypler bonded over their shared experience as newbies last year and the mutual respect they have for each other’s affinity for studying film.

Ohio State center Luke Wypler prepares to block against Notre Dame.
Ohio State center Luke Wypler prepares to block against Notre Dame.
Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch

“He’s a cool guy,” Stroud said. “You can tell he comes from a strong family.”

Ohio State center Luke Wypler led all Big Ten centers in the blink of an eye without allowing a sack with 516 last year, according to Pro Football Focus.
Ohio State center Luke Wypler led all Big Ten centers in the blink of an eye without allowing a sack with 516 last year, according to Pro Football Focus.
Doral Chenoweth/Columbus Expedition

Al Wypler comes to every game, happy to experience it the hard way. For road games, he will travel there the night before, sleep at the airport, and then take public transport to the game.

Home matches are now easier. Al moved to Columbus and bought a west side house that he and Luke share. But Al said he bought the house more for Luke’s beloved 125-pound Rottweiler, Thor, than for himself or his son.

“If there had ever been a human being reincarnated in a dog, it would be Luke and Thor,” Michele Desimone said. “They’re precocious, bull in a china shop.”

His son wouldn’t argue with that.

“All my fear in life is that I don’t want to look back and say, ‘What if? “said Wypler. “I always try to go full speed and never have any regrets.”

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