Today’s Topic: How Much Will Garrett Wilson Contribute in 2019?
Right off the bat, I will freely admit that this is an impossible question to answer knowingly, but it is still well worth talking about.
Ohio State loses a pair of talented outside receivers in Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin. Together, they combined for 77 receptions for 1,370 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.
Until Austin Mack was injured and lost for the season, Dixon and McLaurin split the Z receiver spot together. When Mack went down, McLaurin helped out Binjimen Victor at X, and freshman Chris Olave moved into the rotation in McLaurin’s old spot.
Olave responded well, catching two touchdowns against Michigan and another in the Big Ten Championship Game. His performance late in the season has many expecting him to step in quite naturally at the Z receiver for the Buckeyes in 2019.
This being Ohio State, however, he will need a partner, and that could be where true freshman Garrett Wilson comes in.
Wilson (6-1 180) comes to OSU as the No. 2 wide receiver in the 2019 recruiting class and has performed well in a high level of Texas high school football and in every camp or all-star game he has been presented with.
Now, however, things get real. Wilson is already enrolled, and spring practice gets started in about 38 days. He fits the mold of a Z receiver, in that he can move through traffic well during routes and after. He can get deep too, but is just as comfortable catching a quick screen and picking his way through a mess.
There will still be plenty of competition to complement Olave in the depth chart, however. One player to watch will be redshirt freshman Kamryn Babb, who tore his ACL this past summer. He is running routes again and looking good according to the people I have spoke with. Perhaps we may also see redshirt sophomore Ellijah Gardiner in the mix, or maybe KJ Hill moves from H-back to Z. Incoming freshman Jameson Williams will also bear watching, as he has been shining during all-star season.
There is plenty up in the air at this point, but Wilson’s talent should still get him on the field with regularity in 2019, just ask receivers coach Brian Hartline.
“I have no idea,” he told me out in Pasadena. “He’s not even on campus yet. Until he starts to play in our building and play against the guys, competing day in and day out against our elite DBs, time will tell.”
Hartline has the proper dose of reality when it comes to expectations for true freshmen, but there haven’t been too many freshmen that have come along like Garrett Wilson.
Given the unproven depth chart, there will be an opportunity for Wilson to play right away. People sleeping on Kamryn Babb will be making a mistake, but I don’t think extrapolating Chris Olave’s final five games in the rotation where he caught 12 passes and applying that to a 15-game projection for Wilson is terribly out of line.
It’s probably a bit presumptuous, but that doesn’t bother me much on January 20.