[This is the 20th in a series where The-Ozone looks back on each member of the 2018 signing class and the impact they had this past season, as well as the impact they could have this coming season.]
Chris Olave came to Ohio State from Mission Hills High School in San Marcos, California. He was ranked the No. 68 receiver in the nation per the 247Sports Composite and the No. 399 player in the 2018 class overall. According to ESPN’s rankings, there were 156 receivers in the 2018 class better than Olave. He signed with Ohio State over offers from UCLA, Arizona, Utah, Boise State, USC, Nebraska, Tennessee, UC Davis, and Michigan.
It was going to be difficult for Chris Olave to follow up a senior season of high school where he caught 93 passes for 1,764 yards and 26 touchdowns, but he sure did give it his best.
Olave was not an early enrollee, but it didn’t take long once he arrived in the summer for his teammates to start taking notice.
“It all started in the summer when they saw what I could do,” Olave said last season. “They told me I was going to make an impact on the season. I just stuck to it.”
To quote Sheriff Bart from Blazing Saddles, “And they was right!”
What began last year as a recruiting trip to see a Mission Hills quarterback before the season, turned into Ryan Day’s first encounter with Olave, and an impression was obviously made. Once they saw him putting up numbers week after week, Ohio State offered, providing Olave with his first big-time offer, which he never forgot.
Despite impressing teammates early on, the Ohio State receiving corps was simply too deep for Olave to find many opportunities. He had just two catches through the Buckeyes’ first nine games.
When Austin Mack went down in game eight, Olave finally got into the rotation. He didn’t have a catch against Nebraska, but did have a pair against Michigan State that allowed the Buckeyes to get out of their own territory and deep into Michigan State’s. Olave had just one catch the following week against Maryland, but he saved his best for when it mattered most.
Against Michigan, Olave caught two passes for 48 yards — both were 24-yard touchdowns. The first was a catch and run on a drag route that had the Wolverine defense bested before the ball was even snapped. The second came on a brilliant throw from Dwayne Haskins, followed by tremendous awareness on Olave’s part.
And then he also blocked a punt.
Olave added five more catches in the Big Ten Championship Game, including another touchdown. He went catchless against Washington’s excellent secondary in the Rose Bowl, however.
For the season, he caught 12 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns, playing a much larger role than any Buckeye fan was expecting.
So Now What
The excitement is very high for what Chris Olave may do this season, but people should temper that a bit and remember that even if he’s starting, he will still likely be splitting reps with a teammate.
But then there’s also this from former teammate Parris Campbell, who was asked about Olave’s ceiling late last season.
“I can tell you it’s pretty high. You just look at a guy like Chris Olave, who you see him and he’s a featherweight right now. He doesn’t have a ton of muscle mass on him, but he’s electric. He’s super-fast, he’s efficient and has great hands. He’s everything you want in a receiver. I think come winter time when Coach Mick gets ahold of him, he’ll look a lot stockier with a lot more muscle. I think his ceiling is through the roof and he has it all.”
Olave is the overwhelming favorite to start at Z for the Buckeyes this year. He is also expected to take over for Terry McLaurin as a gunner in punt coverage, which is just as important as replacing him on offense.
The H-back has been the focal point of Ohio State’s passing game for years, but there will still be plenty of attention given to Chris Olave as he looks to improve on a freshman season that had some unforgettable moments.