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How does Jaelen Gill’s transfer impact Ohio State’s wide receiver depth?

An option to start at H-back, the former four-star recruit is taking his talents elsewhere

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

“...multiple sources have confirmed to Lettermen Row that Gill has notified the coaching staff that he will enter his name into the transfer portal and is not expected to return to the program.”

- Austin Ward, Lettermen Row

Heading into this offseason, Ohio State was looking at 10 healthy scholarship players in their wide receiver room, not including the up-in-the-air waiver for a sixth year of eligibility for former walk-on C.J. Saunders. With just two upperclassmen in senior Jaylen Harris and junior Chris Olave, there won’t be a ton of spots opening up in the near future either. As a result, some player movement was to be expected.

The first casualty of this influx of young talent at wide receiver is the transfer of Jaelen Gill, who has told the coaching staff he intends on entering the portal, according to Lettermen Row.

Gill, a sophomore, had shown flashes of talent in very limited playing time, but never really found a role in the Ohio State offense. The skillset was clearly there, as the 6-foot, 188 pound receiver was a former four-star recruit, and the No. 30 player overall in the 2018 class. Hailing out of Westerville, Gill was also the No. 2 player from Ohio in the class, trailing only OT Jackson Carman — whom we know infamously wound up at Clemson.

As previously mentioned, Gill did not see the field all that much, partially as a result of the all-time leading pass catcher at Ohio State K.J. Hill blocking his path. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Gill managed only six receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown, with two catches for 38 yards and a TD all coming in the team’s matchup with Rutgers. With Hill off to the NFL, Gill had figured to play more of a role in the 2020 season, potentially even as the team’s starting slot receiver.

However, even with just a few spring practices taking place before the shutdown, the writing had been on the wall for that not to be the case. With Olave firmly entrenched as the Buckeyes’ No. 1 receiver, Ryan Day and his staff had begun trying out Garrett Wilson in the slot, and apparently loved what they saw. Wilson, coming off an incredible freshman campaign wherein he caught 30 passes for 432 yards and five TDs, is clearly one of the top receiving talents on the roster, and would be an excellent replacement for the always reliable Hill.

As a more undersized receiver, albeit an incredibly athletic one, Gill is best suited for the slot role, and even more suited for the Urban Meyer H-back spot that Ohio State has gone away from a bit under Day. With no clear opening for significant playing time, Gill has decided to transfer, a move that sources told Lettermen Row appears to be in the best interest of both parties. But how will the rest of the depth at wide receiver play out without Gill’s presence?

Well, for starters, Ohio State is looking at one of the best crops of freshman wide receivers they’ve ever had. With Olave and Wilson locking down one outside spot and the slot, it would not be at all surprising to see five-star frosh Julian Fleming man down the other spot on the outside. Standing at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Fleming, the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver in 2019, is coming off a high school career of over 4,000 receiving yards and 56 TDs, and appears ready to start right from day one.

The other three freshman should be in contention to play significant snaps in their first seasons as well. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who himself earned a fifth star before his recruitment was said and done, is also a candidate to start on the outside, but his versatility would also allow him to backup Wilson in the slot. Gee Scott Jr. and Mookie Cooper, both four-star recruits, are less likely to see consistent time, but it isn’t entirely ruled out, and they will definitely hear their names called in runaways.

There are also two very intriguing sophomore options on the roster. Jameson Williams is probably the other most likely candidate to start on the outside opposite Olave, as his blazing speed makes him an incredibly tough matchup. If not, he is almost assuredly the first man up off the bench as Brian Hartline keeps his guys fresh in rotation. Kamryn Babb is another interesting option, albeit one of the biggest unknowns. Knee injuries have kept him off the field entirely to start his Ohio State career, but if he can finally stay healthy, he could certainly play a role in the Buckeyes’ plans.

Losing Gill is unfortunate, as more depth is always better off — especially when that guy is a top-30 recruit, and one from Ohio at that. However, it appears both sides saw that it was likely the best option for the redshirt sophomore to continue his playing career. There is no doubt he will draw the interest of many programs around the country, and should finally get the chance to showcase his athleticism. We here at LGHL wish Gill the best moving forward.