Brian Hartline's work with the wideouts continues to be the stuff of legends.
We may as well start scheduling monthly updates on just how good Brian Hartline has been since taking over as Ohio State's wide receivers coach. Last year, it was Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, and Johnnie Dixon who made huge strides on the field before two of them were selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.
K.J. Hill has improved his play every year and last season was perhaps the team's most reliable pass catcher. The junior hauled in 70 passes for 885 yards and six scores and will be back for one last hurrah this year. Chis Olave already looks like a star at the position following his emergence in the latter part of 2018. Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor will have the opportunity to take their games to the next level as seniors this year.
Obviously a lot of the unit's success will depend on Justin Fields and what happens under center, but right now it's safe to say that Ohio State's wide receiver room is one area that very few seem to be concerned about. And the same can certainly be said for how things are going on the recruiting trail.
|GARRETT WILSON||2019||Austin, Texas||6-foot, 188 pounds||★★★★★||No. 20 (No. 2 WR)|
|JAMESON WILLIAMS||2019||St. Louis, MO||6-foot-1.5, 170 pounds||★★★★||No. 82 (No. 13 WR)|
|JULIAN FLEMING||2020||Catawissa, PA||6-foot-2, 200 pounds||★★★★★||No. 5 (No. 1 WR)|
|GEE SCOTT JR.||2020||Sammamish, WA||6-foot-3, 207 pounds||★★★★||No. 66 (No. 13 WR)|
|JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA||2020||Rockwall, Texas||6-foot-1, 188 pounds||★★★★||No. 89 (No. 18 WR)|
|JAYDEN BALLARD||2021||Massillon, Ohio||6-foot-1.5, 164 pounds||★★★★||No. 125 (No. 22 WR)|
The 2019 class is behind us and Ohio State's next two classes are looking remarkable at wideout. Perhaps the most impressive part – outside of the sheer star power – is the diversity among the signees and commitments. Brian Hartline is really collecting a variety of skill sets that will be featured over the next three to six years.
Garrett Wilson was perhaps the best wideout in America and he's a balanced player who can do a little bit of everything. We got a sneak peek of what's to come when he lit up the Shoe during April's spring game. He's clearly going to see plenty of action as a true freshman.
Jameson Williams is a track star who was one of the country's fastest prospects last cycle. He arrived this summer and while he does need to bulk up a bit, some are already throwing out Ted Ginn comparisons.
For the 2020 class, Julian Fleming and Gee Scott Jr. both look physically ready to step onto a college field today. Fleming spurned Georgia, Clemson, and Alabama in favor of the Buckeyes. All that Scott has been doing lately is lighting up just about every single camp he's attended this spring and summer. They've both got tremendous size and project as outside wideouts.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba has the look of someone who could line up just about anywhere, potentially even as a slot if needed. The Texan is another national top-100 wideout and he's a guy Brian Hartline zeroed in on early in the process.
Massillon's Jayden Ballard is a 2021 prospect, but he's likely the best wideout in the state regardless of class. Ohio State probably could have waited around a bit if the staff wanted, but Ballard was offered early on and made the commitment on Friday. The Buckeyes will likely take another three or four wideouts for the 2021 class and Philadelphia's Marvin Harrison Jr. could be the next one to enter the mix.
If you really want to nitpick, then I suppose the one thing that could be missing is a true H-back or slot receiver. Parris Campbell is now catching passes from Andrew Luck and K.J. Hill will be gone after the upcoming season. The name "Rondale Moore" still causes some nightmares, but that's the kind of playmaker Ryan Day and Brian Hartline could use to complement what's already in the fold.
Still on the prowl for a fourth and potentially even fifth 2020 wideout, Missouri's Mookie Cooper remains the focus at slot. The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder has Rondale-like measurables and Hartline has been recruiting him for several months now. The former Longhorn commit is considering Ohio State, USC, Miami, and Illinois, but the Buckeyes and Illini appear to be the frontrunners.
Five-star LSU commit Rakim Jarrett was someone we had our eyes on early in the process, but the Buckeyes just didn't gain much traction at Washington D.C.'s St. Johns College High following Urban Meyer's departure. Though he's committed to the Tigers, Jarrett hardly seems solid to Baton Rouge. The kid's a tough one to read, but Ohio State and Tennessee are still very much in it for the country's No. 3 wideout.
It's really an embarrassment of riches at the position, but the Buckeyes are losing at least three top wideouts after the 2019 season and a reload will be necessary. One of the more intriguing storylines will undoubtedly be how the passing game looks following the Dwayne Haskins era and with Mike Yurcich now working with the quarterbacks.
While there are sure to be some bumps in the road, there's no reason to doubt what Ryan Day and the rest of the staff can do on offense. Brian Hartline is already proving to be a star, and he's got the future of Ohio State's wide receiver room in a better spot than perhaps any other team in the country.