Star Buckeyes wide receivers excited by ongoing quarterback battle

Spencer Holbrook4 months
Jaxon Smithj-Njigba 7 by Birm-Lettermen Row
Jaxon Smith-Njigba and C.J. Stroud could connect quite a few times in 2021. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

COLUMBUS — Ohio State has the best wide receivers room in the country.

Chris Olave chose to come back to school, passing up on a high selection in the NFL draft. Olave and fellow returner Garrett Wilson lead a loaded crop of wide receivers into the fall.

The talented wide receivers make quarterbacks look good. But they also know good quarterback play when they see it. They seem to be excited about who the next Ohio State quarterback will be, no matter who becomes the starter. The receivers are confident in C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and Kyle McCord.

“Every year, we recruit the top dudes and this has been going on forever,” Wilson said. “Coach [Ryan]Day is one of the best in his job in the country. So, I’m very confident in everyone on the team, confident whoever slinging the ball back there is going to be ready to go and be able to take us wherever we’re built to go.

“I’m very confident in that.”

Two years ago, Justin Fields was also inexperienced. But he had at least thrown a pass in a game while at Georgia and played meaningful snaps. That isn’t the case with the three potential Ohio State starters this fall.

The first pass thrown by any of the three potential starters will be the first for the starter at the collegiate level, no matter what. None of the three have completed — or attempted — a pass in a college football game. But that doesn’t seem to have an effect on how well they perform.

Garrett Wilson-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Ohio State star receiver Garrett Wilson is confident in the quarterbacks. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“They all three can play,” wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba said. “They all three can sling the ball. Ready to see how things go in a game or whatever, but that’s a hard question [to separate them]. They’re all three talented.”

Of course, Wilson and Olave, along with the rest of the room, can ease the growing pains of a first-time starter. The top duo has combined to catch 183 passes for 2,921 yards and 33 touchdowns in their Ohio State careers. The inexperience at quarterback will be easier to overcome because of players such as Olave and Wilson, along with fellow returning star Jeremy Ruckert at tight end and plenty of options at running back.

The wide receivers even view the inexperienced quarterback as a blessing.

“I love it,” Buckeyes wide receivers coach Brian Hartline said. “I love the situation with a young quarterback. It just asks us and demands us to be more detailed than ever. I mean, not that these guys can’t bail us out at times, but to be exact with landmarks, be very clean with body language to not confuse people. Having a younger quarterback that is maybe not learning it all for the first time, but they also don’t have a large body of work.

“I think it’s awesome, I think it provides a lot of clear direction on what’s expected, are we doing it, are we not and then we don’t have the cloudiness all the time of maybe quarterbacks making us right.”

Chris Olave-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Chris Olave is the top returning weapon for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Stroud and McCord were five-star prospects coming out of high school. Miller was a blue-chip player, as well. The Buckeyes will have a capable starter when they travel to Minnesota at the beginning of September.

Who will it be? That’s still unknown. What is known: Whoever the starter is will have plenty of weapons around him to play with, including the top receiving duo in the country.

The talented Buckeyes receivers are confident that either Kyle McCord, C.J. Stroud or Jack Miller can get them the ball.

“They’re all good in their own way,” Olave said. “Kyle’s really good, Jack’s really good, C.J.’s really good. I believe Coach Day is going to make the best decision. He’s one of the best coaches in the country, so as receivers we try to make it easier on the quarterbacks. We try to get open for them and communicate with them at all times.

“Whoever’s the quarterback, we’re going to feel good about it.”