Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming are back in the lineup as Ohio State as the Buckeyes battle Toledo under the lights on Saturday.
Smith-Njigba played just 15 snaps in the season opener due to a hamstring injury suffered in the first quarter against Notre Dame, and Fleming hasn't played at all in the first two games after tweaking an injury toward the end of the preseason. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day was optimistic in interviews this week that both Buckeye wideouts would return to action against Toledo.
|OHIO STATE STATUS REPORT FOR ARKANSAS STATE|
WR JULIAN FLEMING
WR JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA
RB EVAN PRYOR
DE MITCHELL MELTON
CB JORDAN HANCOCK
WR KAMRYN BABB
DE OMARI ABOR
LB TERADJA MITCHELL
TE JOE ROYER
S JANTZEN DUNN
S JAYLEN JOHNSON
DL ZACH PRATER
S JOSH PROCTOR
S TANNER MCCALISTER
“We're hoping all those guys are going to be on the field in pregame warmups and they'll be available for the weekend,” Day said during his final press conference of the week on Thursday.
In regards to Smith-Njigba, who set a number of receiving records for the Buckeyes as a sophomore, Day said earlier in the week that Ohio State would “only put him in the game if he's 100% and ready to roll.”
“He's further along in the rehab process than he was at this point a week ago,” Day said Tuesday. “We're going to expect him to play this weekend. We'll see how this week goes.”
Smith-Njigba and Fleming were seen participating with the first and second-team offenses, indicating that they would be ready to suit up for Saturday's matchup. They ran from the tunnel to the Ohio State sidelines and were deemed ready to play.
Sophomore wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka have both stepped up amid injuries to their stablemates, with Harrison racking up 12 catches for 240 yards and three scores and Egbuka accounting for 13 receptions, 208 yards and two touchdowns in the first two weeks.
Brian Hartline's unit will be without the services of fifth-year wideout Kamryn Babb for the third consecutive game, as the Buckeye captain is one of 12 Ohio State players who are unavailable for Saturday's in-state matchup. Babb suffered a knee injury in the preseason, but the issue isn't expected to be season-ending.
Second-year Buckeye cornerback Jordan Hancock also remains unavailable after missing the season’s first two games, although Day said Tuesday he was hopeful Hancock would return to practice this week.
Six other Buckeyes make their first appearance of the season on Ohio State's status report as Teradja Mitchell, Jantzen Dunn, Omari Abor, Jaylen Johnson, Joe Royer and Zach Prater are all ruled out of the Buckeyes’ Week 3 contest. Abor was seen wearing a knee brace before the game after indicating on social media over the weekend that he would be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Two late additions to the unavailable list were starting safeties Josh Proctor and Tanner McCalister, who were not listed as unavailable on the initial status report but did not dress for the game due to minor injuries.