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.”