Welcome back to another edition of Class-In-Review, where we take a look at all of the prospects that have committed to the Buckeyes in the 2023 recruiting class. Last time out, we took a look at Ohio State running back commit Mark Fletcher Jr., but today we will be looking at a different part of the offense that will be split out wide. Today, we will check out the first wideout to commit to the 2023 class, Bryson Rodgers from Zephyrhills, Florida at Wireglass Ranch High School.
Rodgers is one of the receivers you see rise up in the rankings over the course of their senior season and the preceding summer going into it. He has already been bumped from a three-star prospect when he first committed to a four-star player in the 247Sports Composite. This is only a sign of things to come for the standout Rodgers.
If you remember the rise of Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Kyion Grayes in the prior years of recruiting, I have a feeling this one may follow a similar path. Both of those two began with low four-star or three-star rankings in the Composite, but rose to be top 10 wideouts in their respective classes. Rodgers will also be a “late bloomer” in my opinion, and eventually make his way to the upper echelon of wide receivers in this class. Now, let's take a look at what he does best and what kind of role I see for him in the Buckeyes’ offense.
His junior season he went for 645 yards on 42 catches, averaging 15.36 yards per reception while also scoring 14 touchdowns over a 10-game period. He has the ability to be a deep threat or line up in the slot, giving positional flexibility, which as you all know is one of the things I look at the most when evaluating prospects.
One thing that hit me right away was his explosive starts off the line of scrimmage, gaining crucial distance from the line within seconds of the play beginning. This gives a step on the corner or safety tasked with trying to cover him, and allows his releases on his routes to be a little cleaner and with more space to work away from the defender. The cuts and jab steps off the line also allow for more space, and often times he gains separation by just good old fashioned solid route running.
At Ohio State, Brian Hartline prides himself on his position groups ability in the route running area, and is pretty good evidence as to why Ohio State scooped up Rodgers early on in this recruiting cycle. His change of direction is just so fluid that there is very little if any wasted effort or movement in the route. Every move has a purpose to give him the best chance to get open. Watch the clip at the 0:20 mark below, and tell me this kid isn’t one of the best in the country at getting off the line of scrimmage cleanly and allowing himself a clean break from the defensive back.
The releases he gets coming out of his breaks are noticeably helpful in his play, occasionally completely losing the defensive back trying to cover him. There will be plenty more time for him to refine and perfect the art of the route craftsmen, but he already has a very good base of talent and feel for how to run routes. That is a great head start in his development.
He has shown strides in improvement over the course of his sophomore to junior season film in the yards-after-catch area as well. He likely projects more as an inside or slot wideout in the Buckeyes’ offense where the YAC are crucial, and his continued and steady progress at getting the most out of his receptions is clear and encouraging when talking about his development and projection down the line.
In the clip above, you can see the afterburners he puts on after getting the ball in space. These are the incremental improvements you want to see year after year at the wide receiver position, and is a very encouraging sign. Rodgers earned fourth place in the top 10 for Top Performer in the event from the clip above, according to Chad Simmons from On3 Recruiting.
“He’s one of the more technical receivers in the 2023 cycle and showed off his route-running skills and ability after the catch on Saturday. He stacked a corner off the line with an outside release on a fade route for the first score. The second score came on a quick catch and run down the middle. The route-running and coordination are on the high-end among receivers on hand.”
Oftentimes you will see teams try and give safety help over the middle on Rodgers because he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. At a place like Ohio State and the talent in the position room already there, he wont be seeing much double coverage or safety help in Columbus. The luxury of having so many elite wide receivers is the ability to get them into single coverage or in a position where bracket coverage does not effect them, which is huge for the Buckeyes’ offense.
In my opinion, coach Hartline has landed yet again another sleeper wide receiver who is destined to soar up the rankings as this cycle continues. One of the things I would most like to see in Rodgers’ development is to continue working on contested catches — not that he cant make those now, but if he really can put in the time in the weight room with Mick Marotti and not lose the top end speed or explosiveness while adding muscle and strength to outpower defensive backs, then the sky is the limit for Rodgers.
I know I say this a lot, but thank god for Brian Hartline. Zone 6 has never been stronger, and Bryson Rodgers is an absolute gem to add to the brotherhood — with likely even more top end talent on the way soon enough...