Ohio State's Resurgent Passing Attack Likely to Resonate with Some of America's Top Wide Receiver Prospects

By Andrew Ellis on September 11, 2018 at 1:15 pm
Ohio State's passing game is off to a spectacular start.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Last summer the Buckeyes were the presumptive favorites for Lindenhurst, New York tight end Jeremy Ruckert. Checking in as the country's No. 2 player at the position, Ohio State battled the likes of Michigan and Notre Dame – two teams that rely heavily on the position – before ultimately securing Ruckert's commitment in July of 2017. 

Some of the difficulty surrounding the recruitment came in the form of questions about Ohio State's utilization of tight ends. While Ruckert and his family clearly had all of their questions answered by Urban Meyer and the coaching staff, there were still plenty of stories, tweets, and overall negativity from other fan bases. All obvious attempts to lure one of the nation's top prospects to their respective schools. 

Fast forward to the 2019 cycle and there were some similar concerns surrounding the wide receiver position. For the most part, I'd say those concerns were at least somewhat justified given the scheme, position development under the previous regime, and the overall lack of a downfield passing game with J.T. Barrett at the helm. 

A new signal-caller and wide receivers coach have already transformed the Buckeye passing game and the offense as a whole has been firing on all cylinders through the first two weeks. Obviously Oregon State and Rutgers aren't exactly Alabama and Clemson, but we're sure to learn a heck of a lot more about this offense Saturday night in Arlington. 

As things stand today – with 700 yards passing, 10 touchdowns, and just one interception through two games – the Buckeyes find themselves ranked No. 1 in the country in completion percentage (82.1 percent), No. 2 in touchdown passes (Hawaii has played three games and leads the nation with 13), and No. 4 in passing efficiency.

When looking at Ohio State's 2019 recruiting efforts, this really couldn't be coming at a better time. We've often discussed how wide receiver is one of the more pivotal positions for the current class, and while at one point the Buckeyes had two other verbal pledges (the "silent" variety) in addition to five-star Garrett Wilson, things had slowed down a bit amid the Urban Meyer and Zach Smith saga. 

Things appear to be ramping up once again on the trail, and it's fair to think that the hot start could go a long way toward putting the finishing touches on 2019 wide receiver recruiting and help to get 2020 underway.

One of the top remaining targets in the entire class, St. Louis wideout Jameson Williams indicated on Sunday that a decision could be coming in the near future. The four-star is one of the country's top playmakers and is a very different type than Garrett Wilson. While Wilson is perhaps the best overall wide out in America, Williams could potentially be the fastest player upon his arrival at any major program. 

The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder had been looking hard at Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, and Nebraska, but it's looking as though things are coming down to the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide. The lone concern that we had was the fact that an official visit to Columbus had already taken place while a trip to Tuscaloosa was still looming. We'll have see if that visit ever takes place. 

Meanwhile, Ohio State continues to look at players like Elijah Higgins, Marcus Washington, and Wandale Robinson. Higgins' recruitment seems to be up in the air, but it seems as though Stanford or Florida is in the driver's seat at the moment. Washington has been trending away – likely toward Missouri – for some time now.

Robinson is one to watch closely. The slot/H-back target was in town last weekend and plans to decide within the next six weeks or so. If he makes it back to Columbus in the meantime then that certainly would be a positive sign. He's only about 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, but the Frankfort, Kentucky star is unlike any other player Ohio State is recruiting.

Looking ahead to 2020, Washington D.C. wideout Rakim Jarrett looks to be a heavy Buckeye lean. The same can be said for four-star Michigan wideout Rashawn Williams, who has made multiple trips to Columbus already. Ohio State is also batting Notre Dame for electric Illinois native A.J. Henning, and he's a top target for both of the Midwest powers.

The Buckeyes face their first big test this weekend against TCU, and we'll see if Ryan Day and Dwayne Haskins can keep the offense humming. Urban Meyer is set to make his triumphant return on Sept. 22 against Tulane, and one has to think the potent passing game will persist. 

A more balanced attack with an actual downfield passing game has thus far taken the offense to new heights. We saw how much it changed things during the 2014 playoff run with a strong-armed quarterback and plenty of talent at wideout. 

And it's likely to pay major dividends on the recruiting trail as well. 

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