COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Losing two first round draft pick receivers from the same school would be detrimental to any college football team. Except Alabama and Ohio State.
This year, it was the Buckeyes turn to have two players taken in top 32 when Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave were drafted 10th and 11th overall, respectively.
Brian Hartline has once again prepared for their departure by continuously recruiting the nation’s top high school talent and turning them into professional athletes before they even leave school.
“We have a group of guys that are ready to step in. I have six guys, a two-deep that are really ready to get on the field and play. They can do everything I ask,” Hartline said.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba returns as the Buckeyes’ featured wideout after a record-breaking sophomore season.
- Most receiving yards in a single season (1,605)
- Most receptions in a single season (95)
- Most receiving yards in a single game (347, Rose Bowl record)
- Most catches in a single game (15 against Nebraska and Utah)
“This is what we dream for is go win a natty. We haven’t done that since 2014 and at Ohio State that’s the goal so anything below that is not acceptable,” Smith-Njigba said.
Complimenting him will be sophomore Marvin Harrison Jr. who flashed in the Rose bowl with three touchdowns, Emeka Egbuka, the No. 1 receiver in the country for the class of 2021, and Julian Fleming who’s been riddled with injuries his first two years in Columbus.
At 6’4” 205-pounds, Harrison is the biggest wideout at OSU. The son of NFL Hall of Famer, Marvin Harrison, is ready to begin carving out his own legacy.
“Someone like me they say a lot of things is genetics but I had to put a lot of work into running as fast as I can, change directions and be as strong as I am,” Harrison said. “But this game is about skill and technique. Athleticism is only going to get you so far.”
Egbuka shined on special teams last year and got some playing time at receiver, but the departure of Olave and Wilson leaves the door open for him to step into the role Smith-Njigba held last year.
“[C.J. and I] are building trust and we’re able to connect more on a lot bigger stuff so that’s going to be huge for this season,” Egbuka said. “We’re here after hours just making sure we’re perfecting our craft.”
Fleming has battled injuries his first two years in Columbus, but he was candid Wednesday saying injuries aren’t the only thing that has held him back. Fleming said he lacked the maturity and discipline needed to be a top player at OSU.
“I felt like it was time to really grow up and start taking things a lot more seriously,” Fleming said. “It was definitely a process and it took a little bit of time but now I feel like I’m really locked in and I’m really committed to Ohio State football.”
Other WRs to watch
- Kamryn Babb (captain, Block O recipient)
- Jayden Ballard
- Xavier Johnson