Can Jaylen Harris Break Into the OSU WR Rotation?

Jaylen Harris Ohio State Football Buckeyes


With available room dwindling in Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class, there was always a spot being held for Cleveland Heights wide receiver Jaylen Harris.

No matter who else was coming aboard, Urban Meyer was going to wait as long as he had to for Harris to join OSU’s class.

With about three weeks left until signing day, Harris finally committed to Ohio State over offers from Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, Michigan State, Miami, Michigan, and others.

It was worth the wait for the Buckeyes, but it has been a slow start so far for Harris. He played in just three games last season as a true freshman, planted behind fellow X receivers Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack.

Both Victor and Mack return in 2018, which makes for a still-crowded depth chart at the one spot where all three of them can best exhibit their talents.

Victor (23-349-7) and Mack (24-343-2) put up remarkably similar numbers last season in a dual role. Those numbers should go up if the Buckeyes throw the ball as much as they are expected to.

Of course, there is also the chance that those numbers go down if Jaylen Harris works his way into the rotation. Receivers coach Zach Smith wouldn’t be shocked to see it happen.

“He certainly could. Jaylen is a very talented kid,” he said. “You don’t see a kid that size that can move like he moves very often. That’s why we liked him in recruiting, that’s his schtick.”

Only seeing him in glimpses this spring, Harris looks how you want receivers to look. He is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, and made plays in both short and intermediate spots on the field. In order to get meaningful playing time in 2018, however, he has to do more than just look the part.

“He’s got to be more consistent,” Smith said. “He’s got to perform at the level we expect consistently, and then he’s got a chance to do whatever he wants to do. Because he’s that talented.”

The thing to keep in mind, however, is that for every snap that Harris is on the field, Victor or Mack won’t be. If Harris is going to play when it counts, there can’t be a drop off. He has to be able to withhold the standard that the players before him have set.

And if he wants to take somebody’s job outright, he’s got to do even more.

“He’s got to outperform guys to take spots,” Smith said. “That’s just kind of the nature of competition. He’s got to beat somebody out and then he can take his spot. He shows flashes where he might be able to do that.”


6 Responses

  1. As much as I would like to write off players like Victor who have never really done much, I am reminded of Devin Smith. He never really had consistancy till his last year when he was basically money on the deep ball.

    The other part of me says that if you haven’t done squat after 3 seasons of trying then next man up.

    1. I generally agree with you about doing something by year four, but let’s not forget about Evan Spencer and Curtis Grant and Steve Miller as seniors in 2014. Darryl Baldwin too iirc. This is a big year for Victor and Mack. Both are ahead of Michael Thomas’ pace at the same point in their careers. We’ll see if they can stay ahead tho.

  2. I still think Zach Smith is the problem, the achilles heel of this coaching staff. His receivers continually underperform, don’t get separation and don’t catch the ball consistently. This isn’t a one-time happening either, it happens year after year. Why do you think all the receivers came back? They aren’t ready to move up! Why do our other coaches get hired away? They are in demand. But Smith stays because he’s a legacy of ol’ 6-4 Earle.

    It’s time to condense the rotation, get the best players on the field, develop some chemistry and timing and PERFORM! A 6 or 8-man rotation is ridiculous and a sign of mediocrity. I don’t think our receivers are all mediocre. Pick the best and play them!

  3. Do you ever not complain about the wide receivers?

    Only a foolish person would want veteran receivers to be benched in favor of young wide receivers that haven’t shown a thing.

    1. Sorry bud. Roberto Duran has hands of stone and Victor is the least developed receiver I’ve ever seen at Ohio State. My cat would shake the ball loose from him.

      If it’s broke, you fix it. Hill, Mack and McLaurin are good receivers. Seems to me that they have plenty of experience. Hill doesn’t have Campbell’s speed but at least he’s consistent and can be counted on.

      CJ Saunders was better than both of those 2 in 2017 when the quarterback would actually target him. Can’t stretch the field at all with Campbell or Victor. Campbell since the day he arrived on Campus should have been in the runningback room.

      The bottom line is that unless those 2 step and emerge as pass catchers, the best they should see is mop up time or the bench.

  4. Harris is going to be special. Might as well turn him loose. A couple Buckeye receivers simply can’t catch the football with ANY consistency. One with a long body and great wingspan but still has not clue how to catch the football away from his body , and manage to actually hang on to it. He plays small and smaller DB’s push him around like nothing. The other has no clue how to catch a pass beyond 5 – 10 yards. I don’t care what their names are, or how long they’ve been in the program. If they can’t show any kind of consistency by now, it’s just not likely to suddenly materialize. Neither of them have the drive and passion of a Michael Thomas, or anything resembling the consistency of Michael Jenkins. One has speed in the ballpark of Joey Galloway but can’t catch the darned football.

    Get Harris in the mix with Hill and Mack, McLaurin, McCall and incoming Jaelen Gill.

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