Signed: Zach Smith, Ryan Day Overcome West Coast Powers in Pursuit of California Wideout Chris Olave

By Andrew Ellis on February 7, 2018 at 10:19 am

The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their college careers, as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.

Several position groups saw their share of twists and turns throughout the 2018 cycle. One unit that didn't veer too far from the expected course would have to be Zach Smith's wide receiver class. There wasn't a whole lot of drama involving the Buckeyes' top pass-catching targets. Still, a strong push on the West Coast made for some late-cycle fireworks for Zone6.

The Olave File

  • Class: 2018
  • Size: 6-foot-1,170 pounds
  • Pos: WR
  • School: Mission Hills (San Marcos, CA)
  • Composite Rating: ★★★
  • Composite Rank: 68 (WR)

The recruitment of San Marcos, California wide receiver Chris Olave really took off in early October, and it was the Buckeyes that kicked off a wave of national offers. After sitting out his junior season due to transfer rules, the speedster earned early offers from the likes of Washington State, Boston College, and Boise State.

To say Olave bounced back nicely as a senior would be putting it mildly. He hauled in 93 passes for nearly 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns while playing alongside four-star Utah quarterback signee Jack Tuttle. When you put up numbers like that, the big boys usually are going to come calling. 

The Buckeyes, Wolverines, Trojans, and Volunteers all extended offers as the senior became a national name. Ryan Day was the early point man, but Zach Smith would play an integral part following Olave's official visit in November. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder also would go on to check out Utah and UCLA.

Ohio State landed a commitment from L'Christian "Blue" Smith in August and while fellow wideout Kamryn Babb didn't make things official until December, the Buckeyes were long thought to be the clear leader in the clubhouse. We never had a totally clear picture on the receiver plans, but it had been assumed that Zach Smith would look to bring in either two or three for the class. 

Olave's crystal ball activity went back and forth between Ohio State and UCLA, but home visits from Smith and Day were enough to overcome the distance and help the Buckeyes snag one of the country's more underrated playmakers. Olave was a composite four-star at the time of the pledge, but a rankings update oddly moved him back to three-star status the following day. 

The Mission Hills wideout is a bit of a do-it-all receiver. He's got the speed to stretch the field, but also has enough size and ball skills to go up and make catches over defenders. Chris Hauser – the Grizzlies' head coach – described Olave as a disciplined route runner who can also take the top off of a defense. Hauser also raved about his family and described his star wideout as a first-class young man who holds himself to a high standard. 

“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.” 

So what should Buckeye fans be expecting in Zach Smith's newest weapon? First of all, considering the depth at the position, it's probably wise to expect a redshirt campaign in 2018. K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, Austin Mack, Parris Campbell, Binjimen Victor, and Terry McLaurin are all back for another go around, so it will be difficult for the newcomers to see the field early on in their careers. 

“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.”

The addition of Chris Olave is best viewed as more of a long-term gain at the position. Several members of Zone6 will be gone following the 2018 season, and that should give him plenty of time to work with Mickey Marotti to pack on a few needed pounds. 

Olave's arrival – along with Babb, Smith, and potentially Cam Brown (who is being brought in as an athlete) – should help to solidify Zach Smith's unit as well as the Buckeye passing attack. 

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