Better Know a Buckeye: Bryson Rodgers is A Skilled Route Runner Who Ohio State Believes Will Be Better Than His Recruiting Ranking

By Josh Poloha on June 29, 2023 at 8:35 am
Bryson Rodgers

Better Know A Buckeye is our look at every member of Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class and how they became Buckeyes as they prepare to begin their OSU careers this fall.

One of the most underrated players in the class, Bryson Rodgers is ranked as the No. 49 wide receiver (No. 356 overall) in the 2023 class, yet was the first receiver to commit to Ohio State in the cycle as Brian Hartline was an early believer in his potential.

It also speaks to the type of competitor Rodgers is, as he didn't mind joining a class that also included three wide receivers ranked among the cycle’s top 60 overall prospects.

Bryson Rodgers

  • Size: 6-2/175
  • Position: WR
  • School: Wiregrass Ranch (Zephyrhills, Florida)
  • 247 Composite: ★★★★
  • Composite Rank: #49 WR
  • Overall Rank: #356

How He Became A Buckeye

Rodgers has lived in Florida for the majority of his life. That said, he's always been a Buckeye fan after spending his early childhood in Warren, Ohio, and returning to his hometown for six to eight weeks each summer.

So when the four-star receiver earned an Ohio State offer, it was the dream offer he had always wanted, as both he and his parents are lifelong OSU fans.

“It was a dream come true,” Rodgers told Eleven Warriors. “There's definitely a great bond between myself and coach Hartline. It’s amazing just getting to know him more and how he puts his players in the best position to succeed. He asked my offensive coordinator and my D-line coach questions about my character and the type of person that I am. He even talked to my family on FaceTime and he said ‘I was trying to find things not to like, and I couldn’t find them.’ Hearing that was awesome. He coached some great dudes all throughout the program and was an NFL wide receiver himself, so it’s like a dream come true and now I’m just taking it step-by-step.

“I’m still an Ohio boy at heart. I grew up an Ohio State fan and love watching Big Ten football. I love Ohio State considering the offense they run and the culture they have. What it means to be an Ohio State Buckeye is what I grew up on. I’ll always love ‘em, so I definitely grew up a fan.”

Following just two visits to Columbus, Rodgers committed to the Buckeyes less than three months after receiving his offer because of how much he believed in Ohio State's coaching staff – specifically Hartline and Ryan Day – paired with how much he loved the brotherhood and the family atmosphere.

Even after Michigan tried to flip Rodgers to the Wolverines after OSU landed three top-10 receivers – Brandon Inniss, Noah Rogers and Carnell Tate – in the 2023 class, the lifelong Buckeye fan reaffirmed his commitment, allowing him to make his family proud by wearing the scarlet and gray jersey with his last name on the back.

“I’ve been rocking the Ohio State jersey since I was three,” Rodgers said. “Seeing the smiles on my parents’ faces as well knowing they grew up Ohio State fans themselves, so envisioning their son playing for Ohio State being the diehard fans they are is awesome. Making them proud is my biggest accomplishment, in my opinion.”

High School Years

Rodgers’ high school stats don't jump off the page, which is likely the reason he's ranked as low as he is even though the Buckeyes viewed him as one of the best receivers in the country.

He began to make a name for himself with his most impressive high school season as a sophomore, when Rodgers compiled 47 passes for 710 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a junior, he totaled 42 receptions for 645 yards and 14 touchdowns. In his senior season, the lifelong Buckeye had 21 catches for 270 yards and five touchdowns.

While he’s not a burner speed-wise, Rodgers makes up for it with his crisp route running and soft hands. Rodgers showed a diverse route tree in his three varsity seasons at Wiregrass Ranch along with acceleration out of his breaks and the ability to create yards after the catch and after contact. He also played defensive back in high school, giving him an understanding of how to play on both sides of the ball. 

Immediate Impact

In the best wide receiver room in the country, Rodgers will certainly have plenty of time and very little pressure to get on the field his freshman (and likely even his sophomore) season.

Rodgers' first season in Columbus will likely be one that he redshirts as he begins his development under Hartline and adds weight to his 6-foot-2 frame, as he’s currently listed at only 175 pounds.

There will be more opportunities to compete for playing time in his second season, as Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Xavier Johnson could all depart Ohio State’s receiver room after this season, though he’ll still face plenty of competition to earn a spot in the two-deep.

Long-Term Impact

Rodgers will be hoping to earn a starting spot in 2024, but so will Inniss, Tate and Rogers as well as veterans like Jayden Ballard, Kojo Antwi and Kyion Grayes. Add in the receivers who will join Ohio State next year, including a pair of five-star prospects in Jeremiah Smith and Mylan Graham, and Rodgers will need to make a big impression to climb the depth chart early.

While Rodgers offers the versatility to play multiple receiver spots, that’s an attribute many Ohio State receivers have, which is one of the many reasons it's the best group in college football. That said, Day had high praise for the freshman when Rodgers signed with the Buckeyes.

“Bryson had a big-time season this year. His family has ties up here in Ohio, the Warren area. From early on he jumped on this thing and was a Buckeye all the way,” Day said on Early Signing Day last December. “And his loyalty during this whole thing has been excellent. I think he's gonna have a really bright future here.”

Even though Rodgers can line up wherever necessary, especially if it means getting playing time earlier in his college career, he sees himself playing mostly in the slot.

“It’s a tough question because there are perks to each one,” Rodgers said. “Outside, I like to create mismatches with DBs that don’t want to get on a faster, big frame. Then in the slot, I feel like I can see the field better and read the zone. I love playing the slot position, I feel more into the action. I love playing outside, too; I could see myself as a slot, though.”

Either way, expect Rodgers to compete for a spot on the two-deep as a sophomore with hopes of earning meaningful playing time as a well-developed junior as he continues to compete with the best of the best for playing time.

Player Comparison: Dane Sanzenbacher

Like Rodgers, Sanzenbacher didn’t have superb speed but made up for it with his versatility – though he played mostly in the slot – and crisp route running. If Rodgers turns into the next Sanzenbacher, he will have a very successful Ohio State career.

After combining for 33 catches, 361 yards and two touchdowns during his first two years as a Buckeye, the Ohio native totaled 36 catches for 570 yards and six touchdowns as a junior. Sanzenbacher capped off his OSU career with 55 receptions for 948 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior season.

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