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Unpopular Opinion: Carnell Tate should start immediately

The Buckeyes should take advantage of their most talented playmakers for as long as they’re on campus.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 15 Ohio State Spring Game Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about what we would do if we were in charge of our favorite position group, team, conference, or sport. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all our “Unpopular Opinion” articles here.

If we’re being honest here, I’m walking into this topic wondering if it’s an unpopular opinion or not. Ohio State has had a pipeline of unbelievable talent at the wide receiver position for just about as long as I’ve been watching the team, but in recent years that talent level has reached exciting new heights. Brian Hartline has made the OSU receivers room the envy of college football fans and coaches across the country.

So, despite the fact that the Buckeyes have some incredible, established wideouts returning for 2023, I think one of them should move to the bench. Guys like Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba have demonstrated that Ohio State’s top guys aren’t going to be around for four years. Jameson Williams showed us that talented guys who have to wait their turn sometimes go somewhere else.

Both of those situations have been on my mind and have led me to the conclusion that the top guys need to play as soon as possible. You’re not going to — and you wouldn’t want to — take snaps away from Marvin Harrison Jr. or Emeka Egbuka. But, in my opinion, Carnell Tate should be on the field for as many games as the Buckeyes have him.

So, who sits?

Julian Fleming is the guy I’d start on the bench and rotate him in to give other guys a breather. While Fleming is certainly a talented guy, and I have a lot of respect for what he can do on the football field (there’s certainly nothing wrong with him), I’d like to see the coaching staff take the bold step of getting guys reps immediately when they can help the team, and receiver is a spot where that can happen.

Fleming’s development and his career as a Buckeye have been hindered by injuries. Perhaps that’s why he’s the starter who seems to have the most dropped passes and most often disappears when the offense is struggling. Or maybe it’s because... well, just look at who the other starters are. There’s no shame in not being as good at football as Harrison, who may be the best of an incredible run of starting wide receivers in Columbus.

I’d like Ohio State to return to its former practice of rotating six guys in and keeping fresh receivers out there to wear down defenses. While other teams might need to stick with just their top three guys because they’re the best they have, Ohio State receivers haven’t varied wildly in their caliber of play for quite some time. A sextet of Harrison, Egbuka, Tate, Fleming, Xavier Johnson, and Jayden Ballard would simply destroy secondaries over the course of a 60-minute game.

Tate should get on the field while he’s got Harrison and Egbuka as teammates, as he’ll get the third-most amount of attention. Opponents will put their best cover guys on Ohio State’s returning stars. That should allow Tate to not only produce, but to flourish — even while he’s still learning the position at the collegiate level.

Is this a hot take? Is it actually unpopular? I honestly don’t think it’s the former, but I don’t know if it’s the latter. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.