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After some early doubts, freshman wide receiver Chris Olave now knows he belongs at Ohio State

Olave’s Buckeye career started off slow, but the freshman from California has raised expectations after strong performances against Michigan and Northwestern.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“I feel like coming into camp, I was kind of hesitant about if I could play here or not, with my size and stuff. So I got to 175 before camp, and first couple days of camp, I realized I could just go play here. So I felt like I could play, and I just stuck to the play and played my role throughout the season.”

Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave via Dave Biddle, Bucknuts

Around a year ago at this time, Chris Olave was in California trying to figure out his next move after wrapping up his high school football career. The wide receiver ended up committing to Ohio State in late January, and now is gearing up to return to his home state for the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Originally Olave wasn’t on Ohio State’s radar, but co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day noticed him while out in California to scout a quarterback. Olave didn’t know much about Ohio State either, aside from the Buckeyes being one of the best teams in the nation. Day was honest with Olave throughout the recruiting process of what his role would be, and didn’t pressure Olave, instead telling the wide receiver to make the decision that was the best for him.

After wide receiver Austin Mack was injured in the Purdue game, Olave saw his role in Ohio State’s offense increase. The freshman made the most of his opportunity, hauling in seven catches for 128 yards and three touchdowns in big wins over Michigan and Northwestern. Olave has one game left in his first year with the Buckeyes, and he’ll want to make the most of it as he’ll be playing in front of plenty of friends and family.

Now with Day being elevated to head coach after the Rose Bowl, Olave is a key part of Ohio State’s plans going forward. With Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, and Johnnie Dixon all departing Columbus after this season, Olave will see plenty of passes headed his way next year. Despite having some doubts early on when he arrived in Columbus, there is no doubt Olave made the right move in trusting Day and committing to Ohio State.

“It’s kind of lifting a weight off our shoulders, having coach Day the first three games as our head coach. We know how he is and we know how it is going to be around here. It’s probably going to be the same. There’s probably going to be no letdown. It’s probably going to be fun, so I can’t wait.”

Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch

The transition of power from head coach Urban Meyer to Ryan Day has already begun, and unlike during summer practices when Day took the reigns from Meyer after it was announced Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the season, this time it will be permanent. While there is still one game left in Urban Meyer’s Ohio State coaching career, the team is optimistic of where the team is headed after the Rose Bowl.

When it was announced just over a week ago that the Rose Bowl would be Meyer’s final game as head coach, many of the current Buckeye players were shocked. Despite the knowledge that Meyer was dealing with health issues, many felt Meyer would be the head coach in Columbus for at least one more season.

What should make the transition from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day smoother than many other head coaching change is the players already have an idea of how Day will run things. The three-game stint as interim head coach to begin the season was somewhat of an audition for the current co-offensive coordinator. With Ohio State navigating their first three opponents nearly flawlessly, it became evident that Day was the man for the job when it came open. Now the time is nearly upon us.

“As the games went on it was just me being more loose and more relaxed and having fun out there.”

Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison via Zach Boren, Letterman Row

Ohio State’s defense was much maligned this year, but there is no question about the talent linebacker Malik Harrison possesses. Harrison has impressed enough this season that there are rumblings the junior might test the NFL Draft waters. The linebacker is right now solely focusing on the Rose Bowl, and will announce his intentions after the Buckeyes finish their season.

Some are thinking Harrison could follow the same path as linebacker Jerome Baker, who declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season in Columbus. Much like Baker, Harrison struggled with some early inconsistency under linebackers coach Bill Davis during his junior season. Harrison regrouped late in the season, registering at least seven tackles in four of the last six games.

Harrison credits his improved play late in the season to playing looser. There’s no question Harrison has the athletic gifts to excel at the next level, and he has started to show them. Even though Harrison could benefit from another year at the college level to improve his skills, it would be hard to blame him if he threw his hat into the NFL Draft.

Tate Martell has taken just a few snaps at Ohio State, but one CFL team is eyeing the Ohio State quarterback. The Toronto Argonauts have added to their negotiation list, hoping that in the future Martell will look to take his talents north of the border. CFL by-laws state that teams can claim exclusive rights for up to 45 players. Those players can be added, removed, or traded at any time.

Some of the names on the CFL negotiation lists are a bit of a wish list, as evidenced by the BC Lions tabbing Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, as well as Hamilton placing Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on their negotiation list. It is still too early to know what the future may hold for Martell, since he has been stuck on the bench this year as Dwayne Haskins put together the best single-season performance by a quarterback in Ohio State history.

Martell wasn’t the only player with Buckeye ties that was placed on a CFL negotiation list recently. Braxton Miller and Joe Burrow’s negotiation rights were both picked up by a couple of CFL teams. Miller, who is currently on the practice squad of the Philadelphia Eagles, was placed on the negotiation list of the Montreal Alouettes. Meanwhile, former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow drew the interest of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. At least if the NFL doesn’t work out for any of these players, they do have more options in continuing their football career.