The Buckeyes went about replacing outside receivers Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon this spring, turning toward several players to give it a go.
Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor returned and provided a veteran presence for a group that needs it.
The group has also seen an injury to redshirt freshman Kamryn Babb and the transfers of L’Christian Smith and Garyn Prater.
Despite the losses, there is still plenty to like about what the Buckeyes have returning.
(If you’re looking for the H-Backs, you can find that spring recap here.)
11 Austin Mack, Sr (6-2 215) AND
19 Chris Olave, Soph (6-1 185)
5 Garrett Wilson, Fr (6-0 188) OR
87 Ellijah Gardiner, rSoph (6-3 205)
17 Kamryn Babb, rFr (6-0 195) Inj.
9 Binjimen Victor, Sr (6-4 199)
15 Jaylen Harris, Jr (6-5 215)
Senior Austin Mack moved to Z this spring after spending his first three years at X. He may return to X this coming season, but this spring there was a desire to get Mack, Binjimen Victor, and KJ Hill on the field together to see how they worked. Receivers coach Brian Hartline would not have made the move if junior Jaylen Harris hadn’t stepped up in the offseason and been ready to take on a larger role at X.
“It’s tough because one, he’s such a great guy. You want guys to earn things but he’s attacked it the right way, whether it be in the weight room or academics and studying and being on my hip. And he really is a great young man from a great family, so if anyone can weather the storm, it’s him. But it is a blow to our unit because I think he adds a lot of value to our room.” — Receivers coach Brian Hartline on the knee injury to redshirt freshman Kamryn Babb.
Perhaps the talk of the spring at receiver was freshman Garrett Wilson, who made the spectacular look routine on a daily basis. Wilson plays bigger than his 6-0 188-pound frame and caught everything thrown his way this spring. The fact that he lost his black stripe during spring camp is a very good indication of future results. Wilson is advanced for his age and has been able to showcase it every step of the way. Right now there is depth ahead of him, but that may not be the case for the entire season.
As mentioned, Austin Mack spent the spring at Z, but he could very well return to X this season. It may just depend upon where he is needed and what day. It may also depend on who steps up behind the “starters.” If Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson can hold down Z, then Mack could move back to X. If Binjimen Victor and Jaylen Harris don’t need the help, then that’s a good problem to have. The decision to get Mack accustomed to Z this spring was a good one.
We have seen snippets of Binjimen Victor at his full capacity. The catch last year at Penn State was one of those moments, and maybe so was his 98-yard touchdown catch and run in the spring game. For the last three years, his consistency has been questioned, and they are still working on it. He’s not the only explosive receiver on this roster, however. Chris Olave only showed a bit of what he could do last season because of his youth. His two touchdowns against Michigan are a reminder of what he is capable of on any given play. With Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin out of his way, Olave went about stepping up this spring.
Ohio State loses playmakers like Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon, but are able turn to a couple of youngsters like Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. That is significant in that new quarterback Justin Fields will still have playmakers just as Dwayne Haskins did. Based on what was seen this spring, there looks to be a 5-man rotation out wide with Olave, Wilson, Mack, Victor, and Harris. Can Ellijah Gardiner get involved as well? Possibly. Freshman Jameson Williams arrives in the summer and will bring with him elite track speed.