In the last few days, Ohio State has lost one wide receiver to transfer and another to a potentially career-ending injury.
With L'Christian "Blue" Smith leaving the program and Kamryn Babb's reported injury that could potentially have career-threatening consequences, Ohio State's wide receiver depth has taken two relatively large hits.
This season, the Buckeyes return four key playmakers from a year ago. Seniors Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and K.J. Hill will suit up one final season in Columbus before departing. C.J. Saunders also returns for his senior season, giving the Buckeyes another player with experience.
The one underclassmen who made a big impact last season was sophomore-to-be Chris Olave, who came on extremely strong towards the end of the year, including an incredible performance against Michigan where he caught two touchdowns and blocked a punt.
The inexperience within the rest of the unit, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Jaylen Harris will enter his junior season with just four career catches. Redshirt sophomore Ellijah Gardiner has yet to record a catch. Same goes for redshirt freshman Jaelen Gill.
The Buckeyes did bring in two wide receivers in the 2019 class: Jameson Williams, a four-star out of St. Louis, and Garrett Wilson, a five-star from Austin, Texas.
Wilson is a highlight machine, and was accurately ranked as one of the best wide receivers in the country according to the 247Sports Composite. It is certainly possible that Wilson will make an immediate impact this year at the collegiate level in Ohio State's offense, even though the Buckeyes return four seniors plus Olave.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 4, 2018
The problem doesn't lie in this year, however. Ohio State seems to be set this season. The problem lies in the next few seasons.
Ohio State signed three wide receivers in the 2017 class: Trevon Grimes, who transferred to Florida midway through his freshman season, and the aforementioned Harris and Gardiner, who have a combined four career catches.
In 2018, the Buckeyes added four: Babb, who may never play a snap due to his injuries, Cameron Brown, who is now a defensive back, Olave, and Smith, who has left the program.
The Buckeyes did also add Jaelen Gill, a running back out of high school who was converted to the h-back position at Ohio State. He is expected to contribute in future seasons, and is certainly one to watch and an x-factor as he could be absolutely huge for Ohio State if they were to have success.
While there is still time for Harris and Gardiner (and Babb if he can ever recover), the fact that three out of seven signed receivers in the last three years will never play at the position for the Buckeyes leaves a definite hole of depth. Add in the fact that only two came in during the 2019 class, and you have some problems.
Where do the Buckeyes go from here? Look for them to sign at least four receivers in the 2020 class, and they're pursuing some good ones.
The Buckeyes already have commitments from a pair of wide receivers for the 2020 recruiting class, four-stars Gee Scott Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and are still pursuing three receivers ranked among the top five wide receivers in the class of 2020: Julian Fleming, Rakim Jarrett and Marcus Rosemy.
Eastside Catholic WR Gee Scott (@geescottjr) has been consistently solid each time we've seen him - He's also gotten significantly bigger, stronger & faster - @OhioStateFB getting a kid who's EXTREMELY talented & focused@gofordsports #Buckeyes pic.twitter.com/Idlu8zbWUt
— Scott Schrader (@Scott_Schrader) March 25, 2019
Brian Hartline and Ryan Day have done an excellent job on the recruiting trail thus far, and absolutely must keep it up in order to ensure that the position is stocked for the next few years.
With Justin Fields anchoring the quarterback position for the next two years, and either Matthew Baldwin or Jack Miller manning the spot after him, there is talent under center for the Buckeyes for years to come. They must ensure it will not go to waste by providing another excellent supporting cast.