Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends hit the practice field at The Star in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday in advance of The Opening Finals’ 7-on-7 tournament. The players got acclimated with one another, ran through individual drills and received instruction from Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer and Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
Ohio State five-star wide receiver commit Garrett Wilson; St. Louis four-stars Marcus Washington and Jameson Williams; and Texas four-star Elijah Higgins were all on hand, which gave us an up-close look at the top four wideouts on the Buckeyes’ priority chart. They each offer a unique set of skills and would complement each other well in Columbus.
At just a hair over six feet tall, Wilson wasn’t the biggest wide receiver in the room, but flashed his big-play ability during each repetition. His red-zone routes were very precise, and his leaping ability and overall catch radius made difficult catches look routine — and the quarterbacks (Alabama four-star commit Taulia Tagovailoa and Washington four-star pledge Dylan Morris) look more accurate than they actually were. He’s a very well-rounded athlete and will give Ohio State a lot of versatility out wide.
Washington — who told me after the practice session he might push back his college decision from August (his birthday) until after his senior season — was very crisp in his route-running. He’s fast, but his long strides make it look as if he’s effortlessly running. Washington also has excellent hands, as evidenced by a pair of spectacular shoestring catches, and physically looks like he’d love to battle defensive backs in jump-ball opportunities.
The Buckeyes coaching staff hopes this continues well into the future, but Washington and Williams will be on the same team (Dynamite) during the 7-on-7 tournament this week.
They appear to work well off one another, with the former going deep on most routes and the latter working underneath during practice. Williams has the speed to do both, of course, and that’s something that immediately stood out on Saturday afternoon. He almost glides across the field, and I noticed he would often dip his right foot into the turf to slow himself down if he went in and out of his breaks too quickly. He also makes tough adjustments if the ball is throw behind him.
I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better trio of pass catchers — and I’d put Washington, Williams and Wilson up against the Georgia haul of five-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood and Dominick Blaylock and four-star tight end Ryland Goede (all of which are also in attendance) any day of the week. This class has the potential to be a game-changer for Zone 6.
That said, Ohio State also finds itself in the thick of things for Texas four-star Elijah Higgins. If the staff wants to bring on four this cycle, I’m starting to think he’d get the edge over Indiana four-star David Bell simply because of his versatility. Unlike the other three wide receivers, Higgins is a big-bodied prospect who could honestly develop into a tight end at the next level. Think Jeremy Ruckert in terms of body type and the ability to create mismatches, but faster.
We’ve also discussed at length the overall lack of depth at the quarterback position this cycle, but there are a lot of big names at this event. In addition to the aforementioned signal callers, Wisconsin four-star commit Graham Mertz, Florida State four-star pledge Sam Howell, Auburn four-star commit Bo Nix, South Carolina four-star pledge Ryan Hilinski and Tennessee three-star commit Brian Maurer are all on hand.
The quarterbacks, for the most part, were all pretty even in terms of accuracy throughout the session, but it’ll be interesting to see who separates themselves during the 7-on-7 tournament. After all, it’s one thing to throw to an uncovered wide receiver. It’s another to make snap judgements with ballhawking safeties and cornerbacks like Buckeyes four-star pledge Jordan Battle roaming the secondary.
That said, I was particularly impressed with Oklahoma five-star commit Spencer Rattler. He has a particularly quick release and shows a ton of confidence in every throw he makes. I expect that’ll be on display throughout the tournament. Rattler isn’t a name we’ve discussed before because he committed to the Sooners last summer, but there’s a reason why he’s the highest-ranked signal caller in the country.