Jaelen Gill was one of the crown jewels of Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class.
The four-star all-purpose back had an impressive offer list that included Florida, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, USC and a host of others. But Gill, a Westerville, Ohio native, knew he wanted to play for the Buckeyes and committed almost a full year before national signing day.
Rated the No. 30 overall prospect in the country and second-best all-purpose back, Gill had the skillset to contribute in his first season. His ability to line up in the backfield or split out wide was on full display throughout his high school career.
But Ohio State was absolutely loaded with experienced playmakers last season, making it hard for Gill to see the field. He registered just one catch for 11 yards in the game against Tulane.
Could 2019 be different?
Ohio State lost three senior starters on the perimeter with the graduations of Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon. Even with those departures, Ryan Day's offense is stacked with talented wideouts in K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack and Chris Olave.
Campbell's vacated spot at H-back is the most natural fit for Gill, as he could get the ball in his hands quickly from a variety of places on the field. But Day already announced intentions to slide Hill to that spot as the Buckeyes' starter.
That doesn't necessarily mean another year on the sideline for Gill. Ohio State liberally rotates its wideouts throughout the course of every game, and if Gill continues to tighten up his route-running and prove his worth in practice, he could easily crack that rotation this fall.
Campbell, who became just the fifth receiver in school history to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark in a single season, has high expectations for Gill.
“I just see a lot of myself in him,” Campbell said before Ohio State's Rose Bowl matchup with Washington last December. “Just the raw athlete that he is right now, he's a hell of an athlete. He makes plays all over the field.”
And to his credit, Gill knows his place and the opportunity he has this fall.
“I'm just looking forward to just being back,” Gill said after the 2018 season ended. “Just being on the field, being able to share those moments with my brothers and my team and just being able to keep getting better and learn from all the coaches. There's still going to be some older guys in the room, so just keep learning from them and try to be the best player possible.”