Better Know a Buckeye: Jeremiah Smith Built to Make An Immediate Impact at Wide Receiver for Ohio State

By Josh Poloha on March 15, 2024 at 10:10 am
Jeremiah Smith

Better Know A Buckeye is our look at every member of Ohio State’s 2024 recruiting class and how they became Buckeyes as they prepare to begin their OSU careers this fall.

For the second consecutive year, Ohio State's 2024 recruiting class is the fifth-best class in the country, including the third-best average per prospect ranking of any school, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

As we dig a little deeper into the 2024 class now that spring practices have begun, it's only right that we start with five-star wide receiver Jeremiah Smith – the No. 1 wideout, No. 1 overall player in the class and the highest-rated receiver (99.94) to ever sign with the Buckeyes – to begin the series.

The first wide receiver to be the top-ranked player in the country since Dorial Green-Beckham (2012) and already listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Smith checks all the boxes to be an elite playmaker on the outside.

Jeremiah Smith

  • Size: 6-3/215
  • Position: WR
  • School: Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Opa Locka, Florida)
  • 247 Composite: ★★★★★
  • Composite Rank: #1 WR
  • Overall Rank: #1

How He Became a Buckeye

From the moment Smith committed to Ohio State on Dec. 14, 2022 to the time he signed with the Buckeyes on Dec. 20, 2023, the top-ranked wideout certainly took advantage of visiting some of the biggest programs in the country.

Smith went on 14 visits to schools other than OSU after committing to the Buckeyes, including multiple trips to Florida, Florida State and Miami, along with a visit to Georgia. But in the end, the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2024 class kept his word and remained committed to Ohio State.

While Columbus resides 110 miles south of Cedar Point, one of the most well-known amusement parks in the world, you could argue that Smith's recruitment was one of the most up-and-down rollercoasters of the year, at least for OSU fans. That said, much like a rollercoaster, Smith's recruitment returned right to where it started: Ohio State.

“I guess I will say this about Jeremiah, he never wavered,” Brian Hartline said of Smith after he signed with the Buckeyes. “His family never wavered. He can say what he wants two minutes before the hat came out. He always told me the same thing. His parents always told me the same thing. So from his family to him, the reality of college football is (the media sees) it, and (the media sees) the clicks and you see the conversations and all those kinds of things."

High School Years

After transferring to Chamindae-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, Florida) before his sophomore season, Smith's career trajectory started to take off. During his second high school season, the wideout brought in 31 catches for 667 yards and seven touchdowns, including a 172-yard, one-touchdown performance in the state title game.

As a junior, Smith carried that momentum from the championship game and turned it into yet another stellar season, catching 58 passes for 1,073 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Joining many of the class' top pass-catchers at the Elite 11 and OT7 Championship last June, Smith continued his dominance, earning him MVP honors on the second day of the camp.

He continued his dominance in his senior season, notching 90 catches for 1,389 yards and 19 touchdowns in his fourth and final high school season, earning the All-American Bowl's Player of the Year award. His senior year was highlighted by a 16-catch, 316-yard, three-touchdown game in just three quarters against Bergen Catholic, which went on to win the state championship in New Jersey’s highest division of high school football in 2023.

In all, Smith caught 179 passes for 3,043 yards and 45 touchdowns in 35 high school games while leading his team to three consecutive state championships.

Not only did he dominate on the gridiron but Smith was also a great track runner as well during his time at Chaminade-Madonna Prep, as he was a three-time state qualifier in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, winning a gold medal in both as a junior at Florida's 1A meet.

Immediate Impact

Being the No. 1 prospect in his recruiting class paired with the amount of hype Smith has received lately as a generational talent, it seems pretty obvious that he has a chance to make an impact from day one even in a loaded wide receiver room like usual for Hartline and Co.

Given Smith's physical gifts and how polished he is already as a wideout, along with the fact that he will have months to prepare his body for the college level and develop under Hartline before the season begins, Smith has an opportunity to be starting at receiver when Ohio State kicks off its season against Akron on Aug. 31.

Smith has been on campus for less than three months and has already been labeled as a "freak," a "dude" and a "specimen" by his teammates and coaches. That's how special he already is.

With Marvin Harrison Jr. (NFL draft) and Julian Fleming (transferred to Penn State) no longer with the program, OSU has two vacant starting spots at wide receiver ahead of the 2024 season. While Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss are strong candidates to earn starting spots alongside Emeka Egbuka to begin the season, there's no doubt Smith will be in the mix as well, even if it doesn't mean a starting nod immediately.

Smith previously played with Tate and Inniss on the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team, so that trio has plenty of experience playing together already.

Whether he starts or not as a true freshman, Smith will be an immediate contributor for Ohio State, one that the Buckeyes will look to utilize as a mismatch on the outside.

Long-Term Impact

If Smith doesn't become another first-round pick in the long run of draft picks that have developed under Hartline recently, it will be a disappointment.

While being the top-ranked prospect in his class sets enormous expectations for the Buckeye freshman, the Florida native has everything that's needed to be a great wide receiver. By the end of what will likely be a three-year career at Ohio State, Smith could very well be the best receiver in college football.

“Watch out for him,” Denzel Burke said after Ohio State’s second practice of the spring last week. “This might be a big statement, but just the way he handles himself and the way he moves and the potential he has, I feel like he might be the next best receiver to come through here. And I'm really excited to see what he can do. The sky's the limit for him.”

Whether it happens in 2024 or later on, Smith will be the best receiver on the field by the time he leaves Ohio State for the NFL draft. If things go as planned, he will etch his name as yet another great Ohio State receiver to go on to the NFL, following in the footsteps of recent Buckeye stars such as Harrison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Terry McLaurin.

Player Comparison: Marvin Harrison Jr.

Given that Harrison just finished his three-year career in Columbus and left Ohio State as one of the best Buckeye receivers ever, totaling 144 catches for 2,474 yards and 28 touchdowns and earning unanimous All-American honors twice, this seems like a standard that will be tough to live up to.

That said, a wide receiver with the combination of Smith's size, athleticism, and playmaking ability before ever playing in a college football game is hard to come by. Harrison measured 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine. Smith is already just as tall and six pounds heavier. 

It’s not usually wise to compare a true freshman to a player who’s arguably the best player at his position in the history of the program, but there’s nothing ordinary about Smith, who is more than capable of becoming the same kind of game-changing X receiver that Smith was for the Buckeyes.

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