There were plenty of justified concerns when Brian Hartline was brought on to Ohio State’s staff as interim wide receivers coach back in August. Hartline had never coached before, never recruited before, and his only real experience was playing the position at Ohio State in the NFL.
This past season alleviated quite a few of the on field concerns, as the receivers were Ohio State’s most consistent group all year long. However, the 2019 class didn’t give us a ton of answers about Hartline’s recruiting chops. He landed Jameson Williams and held on to Garrett Wilson, but both of those guys were heavy Buckeyes leans for months before Hartline arrived.
In the 2020 class, we’re starting to get some answers about Hartline’s recruiting, and the early returns are very encouraging. The Buckeyes picked up a commitment from Texas four-star Jaxon Smith-Njigba back in November, and most recently, Hartline received quite the Christmas gift, as Sammamish, Washington, four-star Gee Scott Jr. announced his commitment to Ohio State.
Scott is obviously, as you can tell from his lofty rankings (70th in the 247Sport composite), a big get for the Buckeyes, but let’s look behind the rankings and stars a little bit, and look at what Scott brings to Ohio State, on, and off the field.
On the field
Gee Scott Jr. is a bit different from the receiver prospects Ohio State has spent much of the past few years recruiting. The Buckeyes used to recruit athletes first, and turn them into receivers later. With Ryan Day at the helm and Brian Hartline coaching receivers, it seems that the philosophy has changed a bit, because Scott, Smith-Njigba, and even Garrett Wilson are much more pure receivers coming out of high school than we’re accustomed to.
That’s especially true for Scott. He plays in a system that’s actually pretty similar to what he’ll do at Ohio State, with a lot of quick hit underneath routes, and seems to be a perfect fit for it. He’s a very good route runner, making quick cuts and creating space with his hands without being obvious about it. He’s got the kind of technical ability you don’t really see very often from high school receivers.
He also has excellent hands, allowing him to secure just about every pass thrown to him. His big frame (6-foot-3), paired with those hands should be pretty frightening for the rest of the Big Ten, because once he learns how to use his size a little better (boxing defenders out), Scott will be both a great possession receiver, and a dangerous threat in the red zone.
Now, there are some weaknesses in Scott’s game, as there are in every recruit’s. He’s not an elite athlete. He is a very good athlete, obviously, or he wouldn’t be going to Ohio State, but he doesn’t have breakaway speed or outstanding quickness. He’s not going to busting a ton of huge after the catch runs or burning past corners on go routes, but that’s fine. He’s not that kind of player.
Ohio State has to be aware of that though. They can’t expect to use him like Parris Campbell or Devin Smith, because, well, he’s not those guys. The best thing for Gee Scott Jr. at Ohio State would be to fill a role similar to that of Austin Mack, or Michael Thomas, to go a few years back. Send him on slants, comebacks, crossers, pretty much anything within 20 yards, and let him make a play. He’s going to rack up catches if Ohio State lets him. Leave the playmaking to guys with different skill sets. Ohio State still has plenty of them.
In the class
Gee Scott Jr. is the sixth member of Ohio State’s 2020 class, and the second receiver, along with the aforementioned Smith-Njigba. His commitment jumps the Buckeyes up a couple spots in the 247Sports team rankings, from fifth to third, though it really doesn’t matter this early on. What matters, ultimately, is that Ohio State landed a big name recruit, who will bring a lot of talent to Columbus, while also making Ohio State look like a viable option to other west coast recruits.
That’s a big deal. Ryan Day really wants to make inroads in California on in Pac-12 country, and having Gee Scott Jr. committed will help that, even if it’s just a little bit. Elias Ricks, Kelee Ringo, Kendall Milton, Geirean Hatchett, and Sam Adams II are all major Buckeye targets on the west coast (Adams is Scott’s teammate at Eastside Catholic), and this commitment, along with the pledges from Jack Miller and Darvon Hubbard could be big for the Buckeyes in landing those guys.
Scott picked Ohio State over offers from 17 other schools. The main battle here was between the Buckeyes, Florida, Notre Dame and Oregon, but Ohio State has led for a while now.
I think this is going to be a very large receivers class, so Scott and Smith-Njigba may be joined shortly. My prediction for the 2020 receivers group as of right now is Njigba-Smith, Scott, Julian Fleming, Chris Scott, and Rakim Jarrett. That would be an absolute coup for Hartline.
You can watch Scott Jr’s highlights below, and read more on his commitment here .