The Game did not end how any of us expected or wanted it to. It’s pretty safe to say that the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes are close to zero. With that depressing news out of the way, let’s focus on the future. This year’s team was filled with immense talent, especially on offense. It will be tough to say goodbye to Chris Olave and (likely) Garrett Wilson, however, there is still a lot to look forward to next season!
Starting off with the star of the show, C.J. Stroud. He will be a Heisman finalist come Jan. 5, and possibly even the winner. Either way, it is a huge accomplishment for a player in his first season to even be named a finalist. Stroud had a phenomenal freshman season, setting and breaking records all throughout.
After whatever bowl game the Bucks end up in, Stroud will likely end up with 4,000 passing yards and about 40 TDs. With only five interceptions on the season, his accuracy and efficiency is definitely something to be excited about. I believe he will only get better, now having a season of experience under his belt and time to mature.
I admit, not having Olave and Wilson to lead the offense is certainly going to be tough, but Jaxon Smith-Njigba is ready to take the reigns. JSN statistically had the best season out of any of the OSU receivers, and he was supposed to be the No. 3 WR! Just imagine what he could do next year as the main target for Stroud.
However, JSN will not be alone out there. Emeka Egbuka will get the chance to have his breakout season, not getting the opportunity this season due to being behind three of the best receivers in the nation.
Egbuka came in as the nation’s top-ranked receiver in his class and a consensus five-star prospect. There is certainly a lot of hype surrounding Egbuka, and I am excited to see how, after learning from the best this season and getting some more practice, he produces next year. Additionally, expect to see some more of Julian Fleming and possibly some of the four-star freshmen that could make an impact immediately.
Perhaps the player I am most excited to see in his second season is TreVeyon Henderson. The freshman RB not only was the best freshman at his position in the nation, some (including me) argue that he was the best back period. Henderson racked up over 1,100 yards and 15 TDs in 167 touches. He was an absolute BEAST this season.
Don’t forget that Henderson isn’t the only great running back the Buckeyes have. Miyan Williams had a solid season, too. Williams ran for 490 yards, averaging 7.1 per carry. With Henderson, it could be said that they are the best one-two punch in the country. They both have an average of about seven yards per attempt, balancing each other out well when they need a break. Did I mention they’re both only freshmen?
After this past game, it may not seem like there is anything positive at all about our defense. Let’s put our optimistic glasses on for a second. Both Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau got a decent amount of playing time this season, and took advantage of the opportunities they were given. Next season, the bookends of the D-Line most likely will get the starting jobs and I predict monster seasons from both.
C.J. Hicks, the long awaited five-star linebacker commit, will finally make his Buckeye debut next season. In a very depleted linebacker room, Hicks will be a much-needed addition to this part of the defense.
Lastly, Denzel Burke will be making his sophomore campaign following an amazing first season. Burke has five passes defended, 25 solo tackles and one INT. The freshman did a great job leading the secondary, and he will be a great leader next year as well.
So, while this season did not end the way Buckeye fans wanted to, fear not. There is a lot to look forward to in the 2022 season with a lot of young talent returning. Next August can’t come soon enough, can it?