Ohio State has no shortage of depth at wide receiver this year. With the Buckeyes bringing back their leading receiver from last season in Chris Olave, a superstar in the making in Garrett Wilson, as well as a litany of five-star and otherwise talented freshmen now joining the roster, Brian Hartline should have no problem with his unit in 2020.
However, we’ve already taken a detailed look into just who is going to lead this productive group this year in our Leaders of the Room series. This time around, we are going to dig a little deeper. You know Olave, Wilson, and the highly-touted trio of freshman in Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Gee Scott Jr. Even someone like Jameson Williams, who didn’t play a whole bunch last year, is a guy many expect to see a much bigger role this season.
Most teams would be elated to have six legitimate starting-caliber wide receivers on their roster, but at Ohio State the talent does not stop there. There are at least three other players in this year’s unit who could come out of nowhere and make a significant impact.
The first is someone you’ve probably heard discussed a bunch this offseason: Kamryn Babb. The third-year wideout came to Columbus as a four-star prospect and the No. 73 player in the country in the 2018 class. Unfortunately for Babb, knee injuries forced him to miss his first two seasons on campus. Heading into the 2020 campaign, the 6-foot, 197-pound receiver looks like he is finally healthy, and is ready to make his much anticipated Buckeye debut.
The coaches have raved about Babb’s attitude as he’s battled through injury, and he was named one of the team’s most improved players during winter workouts. The Missouri native put together a monster junior campaign before tearing his ACL ahead of his senior year of high school, catching 41 passes for 902 yards and 10 TDs at Christian Brothers College High School.
“It’s tough, because one, he’s such a great guy.” said Hartline back in March 2019. “You want guys to earn things, but he’s attacked it the right way whether it be the weight room or academics and studying and being in my hip, and he really is a great young man from a great family,”
If Babb can finally stay healthy — and that is a rather large “if” given his numerous serious knee injuries — he could make a serious impact this season catching passes from Justin Fields. It will be an uphill climb with all of the guys ahead of him on the current depth chart, but at 100%, Babb is talented enough to force his way onto the field.
Another guy that has gotten lost in the shuffle of the Ohio State receiver room is Jaylen Harris. Now a senior, Harris has had a largely forgettable first three years in Columbus. He has caught just five passes for 54 yards in his career to this point, and has been passed by on the depth chart by players like Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor and most recently Garrett Wilson.
However, this season Harris has a real shot to make an impact. With Wilson likely moving to the slot, that puts him right in the middle of the competition to start at the other outside spot opposite Olave. Having practiced with the first team offense before COVID shut down spring practices, the 6-foot-5 wideout could be a great compliment to Williams, with Harris being their high-point big-bodied target and Williams more in the Parris Campbell speed mold.
There also still remains the possibility of Demario McCall’s long-awaited breakout year. Although currently listed on the depth chart as a running back, I'm not sure McCall fits well with either unit, really being more of the now mostly extinct H-back position that was a favorite of Urban Meyer. McCall is in his fifth year with the program, so if he is going to make an impact at some point in his Ohio State career, it has to be right now.
The 5-foot-9 speedster has shown flashes of potential, but has not yet been able to earn any regular playing time. It will not get any easier to see the field now with all the options around him, but maybe Ryan Day will find some way to utilize McCall’s skillset this season. Buckeye fans have been rooting for McCall to make it big ever since he first stepped foot on campus, and maybe those dreams will finally come to reality in 2020.
Ohio State likes to play its wide receivers in a rotation, which makes it a bit easier for guys like Babb, Harris and McCall to get their fair share of opportunities. The Buckeyes currently have some incredible depth at the position, and if any of these three guys are able to step up and become an important part of this year’s roster, it will only make the offense all that much more dangerous.
The last thing the rest of the college football world wants to see is Ryan Day with even more weapons.