Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment from arguably the most underrated wide receiver in the country when San Marcos, California, Mission Hills four-star Chris Olave pledged his services to the Buckeyes on Twitter Sunday afternoon.
Let's take a look at what Olave — the No. 324 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
Though his ranking does not accurately reflect it, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Olave is one of the most explosive wide receivers in the country. He combines all of the traits of a speedy deep-threat wideout with the elite hands and route-running of a possession receiver.
“His ball skills are exceptional and he has a tremendous football IQ. He has wonderful physical tools, as well,” Mission Hills head coach Chris Hauser told Eleven Warriors. “He can run and not only run straight, but he's got the ability to change direction. He has a great ability to accel, decel and elevate with the best of them. He plays as if he's 6-foot-6 with his ability to get vertical. He has all of the tools to be a great college receiver.”
Olave essentially only had one season to impress college coaches — and boy, did he ever. He caught 93 passes for a California Interscholastic Federation San Diego Section-record 1,764 yards and 26 touchdowns to help the Grizzlies to the state finals last fall.
“The way he can stretch the field, I would be a knucklehead if I didn't take advantage of that,” Hauser said. “Chris can [also] play the sideways game with quick screens. Chris is a route-runner. He's going to run a disciplined comeback. He's going to run a disciplined curl route. He's going to run a disciplined double-move route. At the same time, he's a stretch-the-field guy, as well. And that is what I think so many people want and desire to take the top off.”
Though his slender frame didn't stop him from dominating at the high school level, Olave will certainly have to put on some weight and get stronger in order to handle the physicality of college defensive backs.
“He's a three-sport athlete, so his weight room time and being a high-metabolism kid, his body is what it is right now,” Hauser said. “When he gets into that college program as far as nutrition and the weight room, you're gonna see the guy just blossom physically.”
Olave, who also plays basketball and runs track at Mission Hills, was lauded by his coach for his leadership and demeanor on and off the field/hardwood.
“He's a first-class young man who holds himself to a high standard,” Hauser said. “You're not going to get a young man that you're nervous about when you're not with him. He's going to make the right decisions because he was raised properly. He's got a wonderful mom and dad. Chris is going to treat people right. He's not a high-volume talker. He's not loud. He's listens. He's got a great smile. I think Ohio State's going to be extremely proud of him being on that campus and representing the Buckeyes."
IN THE CLASS
Olave becomes the 24th member of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class, and joins fellow four-stars Kamryn Babb, L'Christian “Blue” Smith and Cameron Brown at the wide receiver position.
Most prognosticators, including myself, believed that Brown's pledge — which came when he flipped from Nebraska during the Early Signing Period — would have closed the door on Olave's chances of ending up with the Buckeyes. But that, coupled with six returning starters, didn't faze him at all.
“Obviously, they have a bunch of guys coming back, which is beneficial because he's going to be around some guys who are veterans in coach [Urban] Meyer's program,” Hauser said. “But Chris doesn't care who sits in that room with him. He doesn't care that it's a bunch of dudes coming in from some of the best high schools in America. He thinks he's as good or better than those guys. He's ready for that.”
Olave and his older brother, Joshua, transferred to Mission Hills in 2016 after their former school, Eastlake, made its third head coaching change in four years. The move was deemed athletically motivated by the CIF, and the brothers were rule ineligible for that season.
Joshua missed his entire senior year and Chris watched as less-talented juniors picked up offers from programs all over the country.
“When his family moved from South Bay San Diego to San Marcos, he was at a really good football school, but it was more of a Wing T/Fly offense,” Hauser said. “Chris, coming to us, doesn't have great film from his sophomore year to present.”
The Olave brothers used that year to work on their craft in practice instead. Joshua's hard work earned him an scholarship offer from Azusa Pacific — where he played special teams and was a backup cornerback as a true freshman this fall — while Chris created quite the rapport with Utah four-star quarterback signee Jack Tuttle.
“I said we had the two best scout team players in America with Josh and Chris, because Monday through Thursday was their Friday night,” Hauser said. “When [Ohio State offensive coordinator] Ryan Day came through in the spring looking at our quarterback and saw Chris playing catch with him, I told him, 'Ryan, this is a guy right here that I believe in. He's a special, special talent, and I know I don't have anything to prove it from this past season.' But that got the ball rolling.
"Now, we've had those conversations, where [Day] says, 'Coach, you stuck your reputation on the line out there and that says a lot for you and for this kid,' but Chris has really earned what he's receiving right now.”