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Ohio State Buckeyes Spring Preview: Wide Receiver Room


Brian Hartline
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

With all the buzz surrounding the Ohio State football program this off-season, the one thing that remains a constant is the Buckeye receiver room. Ohio State returns a potential first-round pick in Emeka Egbuka and they bring in the number one overall player in the country in the class of 2023, Jeremiah Smith. Co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline has made a name for himself coaching the receivers at Ohio State as one of the best in the country. Hartline has produced multiple first-round picks in Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and future top-five pick Marvin Harrison Jr. Hartline was also a big reason for Terry McClaurin's development into the next level with the Washington Commanders, becoming one of the top receivers in the NFL. The question many have is can Hartline and Ohio State keep the production up?



Emeka Egbuka


Emeka Egbuka
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Emeka Egbuka returns to Ohio State for his fourth season with a chip on his shoulder. Egbuka is not motivated by a lack of individual accolades but for unmet team goals. Egbuka had a productive season in 2023 that could have made the 6-foot-1 receiver a first-round pick in April's NFL draft. However, Egbuka's choice to return was because had he declared for the draft, he would have left Columbus without a Big Ten championship, a win against the Wolverines, and without playing for a national title. With the expansion of the playoffs and having played in a playoff game against Georgia, Egbuka wanted one final shot to compete for a title. While 2023 was productive for Egbuka he did miss a few games due to injury. The missed games resulted in a dip in production from his sophomore season, where Egbuka had 74 catches for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns.





This past season he had 41 catches for 515 yards four touchdowns. Now healthy, Egbuka is looking to lead the Buckeyes with a season similar to his sophomore year. He enters the 2024 season needing only 1,041 yards to tie Michael Jenkins' record for all-time receiving yards at Ohio State. Emeka has already proven he is capable of reaching that number during his sophomore campaign. Egbuka will also enter the 2024 campaign only needing 77 total receptions to pass Ohio State's all-time leader in receptions which is KJ Hill who has 201 total career receptions. These are two capable records Egbuka is capable of breaking with a healthy season which is motivating for Buckeye fans and Egbuka. Emeka can back to Columbus passing up first-round NFL draft money to beat the Wolverines and compete for a National Title but while doing so he has a chance to sketch his name in the record books for the Buckeyes as well.


Carnell Tate


Carnell Tate
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tate will enter his sophomore season with Ohio State coming off a freshman season where he was able to find himself on the field with a receiver rotation of Marvin Harrison Jr, Emeka Egbuka, and Julian Fleming. Tate will enter the season with 18 receptions for 264 yards and a touchdown. Tate was a highly sought after recruit who came to Columbus from IMG Academy in Florida. Tate showed a lot of flashes in some big games this past season including starting against Penn State where Egbuka was unable to play due to injury. Many did not expect to see Tate see any playing time at all as a true freshman but Coach Brian Hartline saw too many flashes out of Tate to not give him the playing time that was deserved. Expect Carnell Tate to have a huge sophomore leap of a season where many could speculate similar to what Emeka Egbuka had during his sophomore season.


Brandon Innis


Brandon Innis
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Innis found the field in the mix of talent as well as a true freshman. Although his numbers do not flash like Tate's do, he was still a productive receiver when his number was called. Innis will enter the 2024 season with one reception for 58 yards and a touchdown. Innis was a productive perimeter blocker in the run game for the Buckeyes and although his numbers may not show it, he is known for his solid possession catching across the middle. Innis was another highly sought-after recruit from the state of Florida and was a part of the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team that Coach Hartline loves to recruit from. Expect bigger numbers from Innis this fall and for him to find his way in competing for that third starting role on the field.


Jeremiah Smith


Jeremiah Smith
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The number one overall player in the class of 2024 has enrolled at Ohio State early and has already made flashes during spring practice. Denzel Burke, the Buckeyes starting corner was quoted saying "he might be the next best receiver to come through here." This is high praise coming from a future first-round pick who has spent his career going up against Marvin Harrison Jr. every day in practice. Jeremiah Smith will almost for sure see the field this upcoming season and may end up starting opposite of Egbuka. Smith comes to Columbus as not just the number one receiver in the country but the number one overall player in the country. For Smith to not see the field would be a huge gamble in today's transfer portal era where money and playing time are everything. Smith's NIL value is projected over $500k as a freshman currently and will only go up as Buckeye fans see the next great receiver in the Shoe every Saturday. This may be an early projection, but I predict Jeremiah Smith to be a day one starter for the Buckeyes and will eclipse the "goat" status of Buckeye receivers when it is all said and done.




Ohio State Buckeyes Receivers: In the mix


Ohio State wide receivers practicing
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Buckeyes will have a competition of talent to compete for spots this Spring and going into Fall camp. Jayden Ballard, Kojo Antwi, Kyion Grayes, and Bryson Rodgers were all highly touted recruits and came to Columbus to play in the Scarlet and Gray. Ballard was shown flashes that he can be a productive receiver for the Buckeyes and has top end speed that many would say the Buckeyes have been missing since losing Chris Olave. Ballard was also ranked higher than Marvin Harrison Jr coming out of high school as well. Now, rankings do not mean everything and it is about how you produce when you get to your school of choice but it does go to show that Ballard has a lot of talent that can be used for the Buckeyes. Antwi and Grayes are also top-end speed receivers who could find their way on the field in this new Chip Kelly-style offense that produces a lot of speed on the edge of the field. Finally, Bryson Rodgers, whose name was in the portal for about a week, chose to withdraw his name and remain with the Buckeyes. Rodgers's talent and strengths are what the Buckeyes love in wide receivers and Hartline did not want to lose Rodgers to the portal. Rodgers has a lot of comparisons to guys like Benjamin Victor and Noah Brown who played for the Buckeyes. He has the length QB's love at receiver and is aggressive to go up and find the point of the football in one-on-one situations.





The Buckeyes have a great situation in the receiver room and whoever finds their way on the field will be because they beat out great competition and deserve it. This Spring will be a fun one to watch in the receiver room.



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