How Chris Olave can set Ohio State touchdown record

Spencer Holbrookover 1 year
Chris Olave by Birm-Lettermen Row
Ohio State destroyed Indiana last season. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State is one of the most decorated college football programs in the country, and 2020 should be another year for a dominant Buckeyes team. Lettermen Row is breaking down five Ohio State records that could fall in 2020. Next up is Chris Olave and the pursuit of the single-season touchdowns record, which could also help him break the career receiving touchdowns record.

COLUMBUS — Chris Olave has always had plenty of motivation.

A three-star recruit out of high school and the hidden gem of the 2018 class, Olave made his way up the depth chart as a freshman and came out of nowhere to become the hero of the game against Michigan. And he continued that momentum through the offseason and into last year, when he had 840 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.

But after his final play of the season in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson, when quarterback Justin Fields threw an interception on a post route to Olave, who cut outside, the junior target has a new source of fuel for a huge year in 2020.

“Chris is the ultimate competitor,” coach Ryan Day said in January. “I love Chris Olave. I’m not sure he ate solid food for about three or four days after [the Fiesta Bowl]. He was crushed. But that’s not the reason why we lost the game. He threw his heart on the field, and he thought Justin was scrambling. When you play in games like that, things like that happen. Unfortunately that happened.

“But nobody cares more than Chris and I know he’s going to come back even more hungry. And I think he’s going to be a leader in that room.”

Olave is unlikely to have the most receiving yards in a single-season in program history. The talent in the wide receivers room is too deep for that record to fall. But with some new motivation and plenty of skill, Olave has a chance to be the go-to receiver for Fields, a combination that worked nearly perfectly last season.

If he takes another step forward, receiving records could fall.

Chris Olave-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Chris Olave has a chance to break records this season. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The record: Terry Glenn had 17 receiving touchdowns in 1995.

How Chris Olave breaks it: Olave has 15 career touchdown grabs, but 12 of them came last year when he asserted himself as the favorite weapon of the first-year quarterback Fields. Now with a second year together, Fields and Olave figure to connect more than the 48 times they did a season ago.

His route-running has gotten better, and it’s only going to continue to improve under Brian Hartline’s teachings. Olave gained a little valuable weight and strength to add to his frame to make him a bigger physical presence at wide receiver. All those things should be good news for the Buckeyes, who lost three seniors to the NFL Draft for the second consecutive year.

As the Buckeyes enter a transitional year at running back with no sure-No. 1 running back in the offense, Fields may be asked to do more with his arm. That’s good news for Olave’s chances of breaking the record.

On the other side of that is the amount of talent in the room at Ohio State. Olave will be a featured receiver alongside Garrett Wilson, who will demand a strong amount of targets as well. Add in talented freshmen Gee Scott, Mookie Cooper, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming, and the Buckeyes could have a deep receiving lineup to take some stress off the Fields-to-Olave connection. So maybe the record won’t get broken.

But the formula for it is in place. Fields, a Heisman Trophy contender, is back for another year. Chris Olave is only getting better. And if the pair can hook up for more than 17 scores in the potent Ohio State offense, a 25-year-old record will fall.