COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Chris Olave’s decision to stay at Ohio State gave him the chance to move up from a late first-round or early second-round NFL draft pick to being taken in the top 20. It also gave him the opportunity to become the best receiver in Buckeyes history. And that’s saying something.
Olave is one of 21 Buckeyes who have more than 100 career receptions, and he just passed Santonio Holmes for eighth all-time with 141. Catching up to K.J. Hill’s record of 201 is probably not possible, but a player who’s averaging six catches a game (zero against Tulsa is an enigma) means he’ll wind up with 177, or third-most.
Finally, there’s the receiving yards record. Olave’s 2,269 yards also ranks eighth all-time and since he averages nearly 100 yards per game, (again, zero versus Tulsa was bizarre), putting him on pace to break Michael Jenkins’ record of 2,898.
Records aside, what Olave has done the last two seasons and this year raises the question: Is Chris Olave the best receiver in Ohio State history?
“No matter what he’s going to catch a ton of balls for us. He’s got a really bright future,” coach Ryan Day said.
But what is it specifically that makes Chris Olave great? There’s no one thing. He does so several things extremely well, which is broken down below in three categories: route-running, operating in space and making improbable catches.
When Olave gets the ball, he’s often open. Part of that has to do with play design — something Day does well. But it also has to do with Olave’s ability to gain separation, which is really what separates him from the rest of the receiver field. Below are several examples from last year of Olave running impeccable routes to gain distance between himself and the defender.
Smooth operator (in space)
The way Olave runs a crisp route and gains separation is special, but what takes him to another level is what he does after the catch. Olave sees the field unlike any player in college football once the ball is in his hands. He has incredible spatial awareness meaning, he knows what move to make and what path to take to get the most yards possible out of any given situation. This is exemplified in the two plays below from this season and it’s something he does consistently.
The most obvious thing Olave does well is make catches that shouldn’t be possible to catch. Below are two examples, one of his masterful footwork along the sidelines and another of his concentration and hand-eye coordination, both of which are second-to-none.