There are plenty of factors to look at when prognosticating the early playing time for an incoming freshmen class. The most common elements are the prospect's physical readiness, skill set, and the amount of opportunity at the position. Enrolling early for the spring semester certainly helps as well.
Five-star Ohio State signee Garrett Wilson checks all of those boxes and the ultra-talented newcomer may already be on course for some prolific numbers as a true freshman wideout.
Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin are all gone after teaming up with Dwayne Haskins to lead the most dominant passing attack we've seen in Columbus. K.J. Hill still has a decision to make on his future, but it's pretty clear that next year's wide receiver room is going to look a heck of a lot different for Ryan Day and Brian Hartline.
Austin Mack will return from his injury and Binjimen Victor announced yesterday that he too will be back for his senior season. Chris Olave made an impact as a true freshman late in 2018, and he too will clearly be in the mix next season. A new quarterback and new faces at wideout could present a bit of a challenge for Day and the passing game.
|2019||Garrett Wilson||Austin, Texas||★★★★★||No. 16 (No. 2 WR)||TBD|
|2018||Kamryn Babb||St. Louis, MO||★★★★||No. 73 (No. 13 WR)||REDSHIRT (Injury)|
|2017||Trevon Grimes||Fort Lauderdale, FL||★★★★||No. 41 (No. 6 WR)||3 rec, 20 yards|
|2016||Austin Mack||Fort Wayne, IN||★★★★||No. 72 (No. 9 WR)||2 rec, 15 yards|
|2015||K.J. Hill||Little Rock, AR||★★★★||No. 153 (No. 16 WR)||REDSHIRT|
|2014||Johnnie Dixon||West Palm Beach, FL||★★★★||No. 77 (No. 9 WR)||REDSHIRT (injury)|
|2013||Jalin Marshall||Middletown, Ohio||★★★★★||No. 34 (No. 4 WR)||REDSHIRT|
It hasn't exactly been easy for Buckeye wideouts to see the field right away. Olave's late-season heroics were terrific to behold, but the California native ended the season with just 12 receptions for 197 yards and three scores. The Mack injury opened the door to some more playing time, and honestly just seeing the field was impressive given the depth Hartline had at the position.
Olave was actually one of the lowest-rated signees in the 2018 class, but injuries prevented Kamryn Babb from seeing the field and L'Christian Smith saw limited action in his first year. It's been a common theme dating back to the Class of 2013, and while a few guys like Dontre Wilson (H-back) and Olave have seen playing time, those instances have mostly been few and far between.
Enter the longtime Dublin resident who relocated to the Lone Star State.
Wilson's arrival on campus this week is a welcome sight for Buckeye fans who may have a bit of concern surrounding a post-Dwayne Haskins passing attack. Ohio State's record-setter is off to the National Football League, and while Haskins' numbers will be virtually impossible to replicate, there's still plenty of reason for excitement.
I suppose proclaiming that Garrett Wilson's impact will be substantial isn't exactly a bold statement, but the five-star really does bring it all to Columbus. He's got exceptional hands and route-running abilities, all the physical tools, and he's more than capable of going up and getting the ball over defenders despite being right at six-foot tall. That much was clearly evident during his two-touchdown performance at Saturday's All-American Bowl.
While Zach Harrison was Ohio States top-rated 2019 signee, the Lewis Center defensive end is walking into a room with plenty of guys on the depth chart. Chase Young, Jonathon Cooper, Tyler Friday, and Tyreke Smith all will see playing time next season. Harrison should also see the field but one has to think it'll be difficult for him to make his way into the two-deep immediately.
Already a student at Ohio State, Wilson's push for early playing time could be one of the spring and summer's biggest storylines. It's probably too early to fully project the depth chart, but I think it's safe to assume that Austin Mack and Chris Olave will be on the field plenty for the Buckeyes. We'll see what happens with K.J. Hill, but Binjimen Victor and Jaylen Harris should be firmly in the mix as well.
In his final two seasons at Austin's Lake Travis High School, Wilson hauled in 166 passes for 2,915 yards and an absurd 45 touchdowns. He now is able to reunite with former teammate Matthew Baldwin, but he'll likely be catching passes from Justin Fields or Tate Martell in the early part of his Buckeye career.
The opportunity is there and there's absolutely no questioning the talent from the country's No. 2 wideout. All in all, it should be the perfect recipe for an instant impact that we're not used to seeing at the position.