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 one of the nation's top-rated wide receivers when Austin, Texas, Lake Travis five-star Garrett Wilson pledged his services to the Buckeyes on Sunday evening, two weeks after his official visit to Columbus.
Let's take a closer look at what Wilson – No. 29 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 – brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
The 6-foot, 185-pound Wilson is among the most well-rounded and versatile prospects in the country, as he lined up at wide receiver and cornerback for Lake Travis last season.
“He means everything to our team,” Cavaliers head coach Hank Carter told Eleven Warriors. “He’s the most competitive guy on our squad. He is tremendously talented, probably the most talented kid I’ve ever coached — maybe even coached against.”
Wilson was the go-to target last fall for Ohio State freshman quarterback Matthew Baldwin, and the two hooked up on 98 passes for 1,774 yards and 26 touchdowns to lead Lake Travis to a berth in the Texas 6A state championship game last fall — which arguably the highest level of completion in high school football.
“I’m biased, but I think he's the best receiver in the country,” Baldwin told Eleven Warriors. “I love throwing to him. He makes me look better.”
A lot of that can be attributed to Wilson’s unbelievable catch radius, ability to cut on a dime to shake would-be defenders and acceleration in the open field.
“The way he catches the football and his body control, he’s uniquely talented. I’ve never seen anyone with his catch radius and the way he can just manipulate his body and control the football after the catch,” Carter said. “He’s a handful to get on the ground the way he changes direction and with how fast and explosive he is, too. Definitely a talented runner after he gets the ball in his hands. I can’t say enough positives about him. He’s a fantastic man, comes from a great family and is just a tremendous talent.”
Though Lake Travis lost the aforementioned state title game to Allen, 35-33, Wilson outshined Oklahoma five-star wide receiver commit Theo Wease Jr. on both sides of the field. He hauled in eight catches for 99 yards and held Wease without a reception, breaking up the only pass that came their way all afternoon.
“They didn’t throw the ball over there a whole lot,” Carter said. “I wouldn’t either because Garrett’s got it covered. That gave us the ability to shut down one side of the field and rotate coverage away from him.”
Wilson clearly has a natural instinct for the position, a nose for the football and willingness to do whatever it takes for the team, including setting up blocks on kick return and driving his man 20 yards downfield. But like any young wideout, does have some room for improvement, too.
“I think kids can always work on polishing their routes and coming in and out of routes more quickly,” Carter said.
Wilson will play in the All-American Bowl Presented by American Family Insurance (previously known as the U.S. Army All-American Bowl) next January. He was also invited to The Opening Finals earlier this evening following his performance at the Dallas Regional.
Wilson was also named first-team all-district on the hardwood. He averaged 21 points per game and led the Cavaliers’ basketball team to the state regional finals this spring.
IN THE CLASS
Wilson becomes the ninth member — but first wide receiver — in Ohio State’s Dynasty ‘19 recruiting class. He joins Indiana four-star running back Sampson James and Georgia four-star athlete Steele Chambers at the offensive skill positions.
The Buckeyes could potentially lose all six starting wide receivers following the 2018 season. And if that happens, the staff will need to restock the cupboard this cycle.
With the guaranteed departures of Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin, Ohio State should — at the very least — take three wide receivers to replace them. If K.J. Hill (redshirt), Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor opt to leave for the National Football League next offseason, the staff will certainly stretch that number to four or five commitments instead.
The Buckeyes have offers out right now to more than two dozen wide receivers, but only have a legitimate chance with or are among the favorites for prospects like Florida four-star John Dunmore; Georgia four-stars Ramel Keyton and Zion Puckett; Indiana four-star David Bell; St. Louis four-stars Marcus Washington and Jameson Williams; Tennessee four-stars Trey Knox and Lance Wilhoite; Texas four-stars Jalen “Boobie” Curry and Elijah Higgins; and Indiana three-star Craig Young.
Earlier this week, both Ohio State and Texas offered a scholarship to Lake Travis four-star quarterback Hudson Card.
Some viewed it as a last-ditch effort to land Wilson’s pledge, despite the fact that he already has well-established relationships with players at both schools — including Buckeyes freshman quarterback Matthew Baldwin and Longhorns sophomore tight end Cade Brewer, both former teammates.
“Obviously, he's got a good relationship with Matthew and knows how good of a player he is,” Carter said, “but we’ve also got a couple players over at Texas, as well, that are good players. I think he’s pretty familiar with both programs and has friends at both places.”
Not a single offer or relationship was going to push Ohio State or Texas ahead, but it’s worth noting the bonds between the Cavaliers and Buckeyes are only getting stronger.
Ohio State has now picked up two highly rated prospects from one of the best programs in the talent-rich Lone Star State in back-to-back cycles — not to mention, one that sits just a stone’s skip down the Colorado River from Texas’ campus. Maybe Card, who some believe will be the best quarterback to ever play for the Cavaliers when his career is said and done, will be next.