Examining wide receiver priorities for Brian Hartline, Buckeyes

Jeremy Birminghamabout 2 years
Aritcle written by:Jeremy BirminghamJeremy Birmingham


Emeka Egbuka by Birm/Lettermen Row

Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Thursday’s question checks in on the top targets at wide receiver in the recruiting Class of 2021.

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Ohio State has recruited extremely well at the receiver position for the last handful of years, and there’s no reason to expect that to slow down anytime soon. The evolution of the Buckeyes offense has seen the level of success rise year over year, culminating in the country’s best receiver haul in the 2020 class.

But if things go right, the group in 2021 could be even better.

Brian Hartline’s reputation as a recruiter is through the roof. The chance to learn from him while playing in Ryan Day’s offense has become an enticing option for most of the country’s premier pass catchers.

Hartline landed a commitment from Jayden Ballard in June. He’s the country’s 19th-ranked receiver prospect in the Class of 2021 and the best pure receiver prospect in Ohio, so securing a pledge from him early was important for the Buckeyes. It also made sure he’d have a spot in a class that could otherwise fill up quickly and leave him on the outside looking in.

Yes, a top-100 prospect from Ohio could very well have been on the outside looking in if he had decided to play the waiting game, because there are a handful of really good players from around the country that Hartline and Ohio State have eyes on.

Steilacoom (Wash.) athlete Emeka Egbuka is the top of the list for the Buckeyes, and I personally believe he’s a game-changer from the minute he steps on a college campus. He’s the country’s top-ranked athlete, a top-10 player overall and was identified by Hartline very early. He’s visited Columbus once, and he’ll continue to seriously consider the Buckeyes as he heads toward his decision.

ohio state recruiting-emeka egbuka-lorenzo styles-beaux collins

Emeka Egbuka (middle left), Beaux Collins (middle right) and Lorenzo Styles (right) began forming a relationship at Ohio State in April. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

If Egbuka is considered as a Parris Campbell-type of receiver, then Ohio State needs to find complementary options around him. And with Ballard as one, the hope for 2021 is to land probably three more beyond that pair, meaning that in back-to-back years Ohio State would sign five potential wideouts. There are three players who immediately stand out to me as real potential options who would help elevate the 2021 haul into the same stratosphere as the 2020 unit if they picked the Buckeyes.

Beaux Collins, Marvin Harrison, Jr. and Pickerington Central athlete Lorenzo Styles.

Collins and Harrison both visited Ohio State twice in the spring, and each player has raved about their time in Columbus. Harrison has talked about a potential decision before his junior season begins, but Collins — ranked as 247Sports.com’s No. 2-ranked receiver — isn’t expected to decide anytime soon. Lorenzo Styles is a Buckeyes legacy who is very seriously considering Notre Dame and Michigan among others. And though most believe he’ll ultimately land on Ohio State, the longer he waits to make his decision, the more interesting his recruitment will get.

There are a handful of players around the country who continue to be evaluated by Hartline and have a developing relationship with him. But the way that the 2020 class unfolded with the key targets being committed so early has really provided a unique chance to focus on 2021 much earlier.

That’s a key component in the upcoming battles for commitments and signatures because the fight for Egbuka, Collins and Harrison may very well shakedown to Ohio State against Clemson.

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