Garrett Wilson already showing explosive slot potential for Buckeyes

Spencer Holbrook11 months

Win or lose, every week there are a handful of Ohio State players who stood out above the rest.

Following the tradition of the helmet stickers that dates back to the days of Woody Hayes, Lettermen Row shares out our version of the award every week after the game for the best performers on offense, defense and special teams for the Buckeyes.

COLUMBUS — The coming out party happened last season for Garrett Wilson.

This year, with a new position and a better sense of chemistry with his quarterback, Wilson is ready to explode for a massive sophomore season. And he started it with the most catches and receiving yards of any game so far in his young career.

Wilson was targeted seven times. He caught seven balls. He had 129 yards receiving. Most of his career day came from his new home in the slot receiver position, but he also caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields in the first half from outside the numbers.

And as the connection between Fields and Wilson continues to grow, Wilson will only get better. Saturday’s output in the Buckeyes 52-17 runaway win over Nebraska is just the beginning of what could be a historic year — and a potential Biletnikoff Award campaign — for Wilson.

“Garrett’s just a great receiver, all around,” Fields said. “Him being in the slot, him being able to work outside and inside and him being able to go in different directions, I think that just makes him more dynamic. Him being in that slot definitely makes our team better.

“He’s definitely a great receiver.”

Wilson was the offensive star who benefitted the most from his Heisman Trophy-candidate quarterback in the first game of the season, but he wasn’t alone as a standout performer. As always, Lettermen Row has some Buckeye Leaves to hand out for Ohio State after another dominant season-opening win.

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Garrett Wilson led Ohio State in receiving against Nebraska. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State offense

WR Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson showed signs of how special he can be for the Buckeyes last season. And after a change in position this offseason, from the outside receiver spot into the slot, Wilson has a chance to be one of the best receivers in America during this shortened season. Wilson caught a career-high seven passes for a career-high 127 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown grab from Justin Fields to give the Buckeyes an early lead in the first quarter. Wilson began to live up to his five-star recruiting ranking with a big freshman campaign. This season, he is well on his way to becoming one of the best in the country at his position — and the hookup between Fields and Wilson will flourish.

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Sevyn Banks had a scoop-and-score touchdown for Ohio State against Nebraska. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State defense

DB Sevyn Banks

Ohio State started its season opener slowly on defense, giving up two touchdown drives in the first half and struggling to stop the Cornhuskers run game. As the first half played on, the Buckeyes began to slow down the Nebraska attack. Already sitting on a lead on Nebraska’s first drive of the second half, the Buckeyes finally made a defensive play that effectively sealed the game. Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez fumbled the football on a designed run, the first of two Nebraska turnovers on the day. Buckeyes cornerback Sevyn Banks scooped it up and scampered 55 yards for a touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 24-point lead and put the game away for good. Banks is expected to be a lockdown cornerback for Ohio State this season, but anyway he can find a score is good news for the Silver Bullets.

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Blake Haubeil started the season off with a perfect kicking day for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Buckeyes special teams

K Blake Haubeil

Ohio State has plenty of trust in Blake Haubeil after his impressive season last year, and he started the year off on a good note this season. Haubeil was a perfect 7 for 7 on extra points Saturday against the Huskers, and he even made one that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Haubeil also knocked in a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter to give the Buckeyes a 17-14 edge, a lead they never gave up after that point. Haubeil’s consistency continues to be an aspect of the special teams Ohio State can always rely on.