Brian Hartline is once again dealing with an abundance of talent.
Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class featured a trio of wide receivers. Chris Olave was a three-star who already burst onto the scene toward the end of his true freshman season. Four-star L'Christian "Blue" Smith just recently decided to leave the program following a redshirt year. Kamryn Babb was the top-rated signee of the bunch, but injuries have kept the talented St. Louis native off the field thus far.
Babb was the country's No. 13 wide receiver prospect and almost certainly would have had an even higher rating had it not been for a torn ACL that forced him to miss his entire senior season. Leading up to the injury, he put together solid performances at a number of camps, including Nike's The Opening Finals which also featured players like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. He was Ohio State's top wide receiver target throughout the cycle and the injury did nothing to change that.
Justin Fields hits Kamryn Babb for the TD. Both guys have had strong showings this whole tournament. pic.twitter.com/WVyanHUIIN
— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) July 3, 2017
Yet another ACL tear took place last summer after his arrival in Columbus – this time to the other knee – so Babb hasn't been able to make any noise thus far. Understandably so, there hasn't been a whole lot of chatter surrounding the redshirt freshman. The Buckeyes bring back a ton of weapons with K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, Chris Olave, and Binjimen Victor. Early reports on five-star early enrollee Garrett Wilson have also been glowing.
Ryan Day spoke with the media yesterday following the team's fifth practice and had positive things to say about Brian Hartline's unit, but there was no mention of Babb as the staff appears to be easing him back slowly following last summer's knee injury. Playing it safe certainly seems like the right approach given his history. In addition to the two ACL tears, Babb also suffered a leg injury in high school that caused him to miss some time.
It's going to be difficult for a number of young wideouts to see action in 2019, and a more realistic impact may not come until 2020 when Hill, Mack, and Victor are all gone. As for Babb, he's not really a burner and at 6-foot and 195 pounds he doesn't have exceptional size for the position. Based strictly off of his measurables and high school tape, K.J. Hill may actually be the best comparison for the time being.
His career is already somewhat reminiscent of another recent Buckeye wideout. Johnnie Dixon was a heralded signee back in 2014, but injuries plagued his first few years at Ohio State. Dixon then put together two nice (and healthy) seasons in 2017 and 2018, and following a nice showing at the NFL Combine, he's now viewed as a potential late-round Draft pick.
Heading into the 2018 campaign, no one was expecting Olave to have the impact that he did; even if it came almost entirely in the second half of the season. Austin Mack's injury opened the door and the true freshman was able to take advantage. Perhaps it's now Babb's turn to carve out a role for himself? It's a deep group of pass-catchers but it'll be worth watching to see when he gets back to full go this offseason.
We've heard very little on Kamryn Babb since he arrived last summer. That may very well be changing in the coming months—as long as his health permits it.