California wide receiver Chris Olave committed to Ohio State Sunday night, becoming the fifth receiver in the Buckeyes’ 2018 class, joining H-back Jaelen Gill and wideouts L’Christian Smith, Cameron Brown, and Kamryn Babb. Olave is the No. 69 receiver in the 247Sports Composite. Ohio State now has 24 commitments in the 2018 recruiting class.
Player: Chris Olave (Mission Hills High School / San Marcos, CA)
Position: Wide Receiver
Ranking: 247Sports Composite 3-Star; No. 69 wide receiver; No. 369 player overall
Chris Olave (6-1 170) was an All-League selection following a senior season where he caught an astounding 93 passes for a San Diego Section-record 1,764 yards. He scored 26 touchdowns this past season, including taking his only punt return to the house. And for good measure, when his team faced an opponent with a passing offense, he would play cornerback in order to shut down one half of the field.
Watching Olave’s highlights, you’ll see a receiver who gets behind a defense with relative ease. He hits the right speeds at the top of his routes and creates distance at an alarming rate. At a Nike combine last spring, he ran a 4.73 40-yard dash, which doesn’t equate to running past defenders as often as Olave does, but 1,764 yards doesn’t happen by accident.
Olave isn’t just a deep threat, however. He is comfortable working in the slot and over the middle and accelerates quickly with the ball in his hands. He can high-point it in one-on-one situations as well, and displays great ball awareness. Olave will need to get bigger and stronger, but Ohio State is pretty good about helping with things like that.
Watching how easily Chris Olave runs by defenders, I am reminded of watching Devin Smith’s high school highlights because they were remarkably similar. The speed is different at this point, but the results are the same.
Another former Buckeye who comes to mind is Chris Fields. Fields had some very similar high school highlights as well, even if they’re grainier than the Zapruder Film. Here is Jim Tressel talking about what Fields brought to the OSU offense on Signing Day 2009.
Like Chris Fields — or current Buckeye K.J. Hill — I could see Olave lining up in the slot eventually. He’s not a standard H-back for the Buckeyes, but he does fit the skill set of the receiving H-backs that OSU has employed in the past (Fields, Hill, Philly Brown). He could also factor in quite easily at the Z, like a Johnnie Dixon or Terry McLaurin. Considering Olave’s talent with the deep ball — and Ohio State’s presumed move towards more downfield passing — this could become a very profitable partnership wherever he ends up.
Chris Olave joins two other similar receivers in this class in Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown. All three of them are listed at 6-foot-1, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of them end up in the slot. Bringing in five receivers may seem like a lot, but the Buckeyes will be losing four receivers after 2018 — K.J. Hill expects this to be his last season — and that’s not including what may happen with either Austin Mack or Binjimen Victor, who will both be of draft age. The loss of Trevon Grimes to transfer has also forced OSU’s hands a bit.
There shouldn’t really be many snaps for freshmen receivers this season with Ohio State’s top 10 receivers all returning from last season (including Demario McCall, now at H-back). The good news, however, is that Olave could see the field this season and still redshirt if the NCAA passes a proposed rule to allow players to play up to four games anywhere on the schedule and still maintain a redshirt. Or maybe he just bypasses an unnecessary rule by becoming an integral part of the OSU offense. The Buckeyes would be fine with that as well.
Chris Olave Highlights
[Chris Olave photo courtesy sandiegotribune.com]