The No. 9 player on this list was in high school last year but already showed in the spring that he is quite capable of making big plays for the Buckeyes this season as a true freshman.
No. 9 — Garrett Wilson, Freshman Wide Receiver
Garrett Wilson is the highest-ranked wide receiver Ohio State has signed in the internet recruiting era (at least for another five months or so).
Ranked the No. 2 receiver in the nation and the No. 20 player overall, Wilson became just the second 5-star receiver (247Sports Composite) signed by Ohio State since 2002. Jalin Marshall was the first in 2013. This is all, of course, not counting Ted Ginn, Jr. who was the No. 2 player in the 2004 class and the No. 1 cornerback.
Wilson finished with 204 receptions for 3,359 yards in his high school career, scoring 32 touchdowns. He also added a pair of touchdowns in the Army All-American Bowl back in January.
Wilson enrolled early for the Buckeyes and impressed throughout the spring, which he capped with an athletic touchdown reception in the Spring Game.
While it was only one catch, it showed just a glimpse of Wilson’s awareness and ability to control the football in traffic.
And there’s a lot more to come.
Dude’s a freshman, but don’t worry.
What He Does Well
Listed at 6-0 and 188 pounds, Wilson will need to get stronger in order to contend with Big Ten defensive backs. However, he has always played bigger than his size, which you saw in the spring. His ball skills are elite and he has very strong hands. He may be the size of your standard Z receiver like a Terry McLaurin or Johnnie Dixon, but he has the sideline feel of a chain-moving X receiver like Michael Thomas.
Oh my goodness Garrett Wilson… pic.twitter.com/Toriwc90Qv
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) December 23, 2017
Wilson is an elite pass catcher of wayward footballs. He is a one-man pigskin orphanage and none get turned away.
Like all receivers, however, he is even better when the ball gets to him properly timed. He is dangerous after the catch, which makes him a very effective screen receiver. He is also tough, so he’s more concerned about catching the football than the defense on its way to stop him.
Having tables-turning deep speed may be a question, but he is so under control running under the football and he times his leaps so well, that when deep balls turn into 50/50 balls, Wilson’s odds don’t really dip that much.
Garrett Wilson does everything well and looks like he’s been doing it that way since the day he began. He is a natural, but puts in the work to make sure that nature takes its course.
Garrett Wilson In 2019
Wilson will likely begin as the Buckeyes’ No. 3 Z receiver, behind Austin Mack and Chris Olave. Mack was moved from X in order to get OSU’s three best receivers — Binjimen Victor (X), Mack (Z), and KJ Hill (H) — on the field together.
Ryan Day said last week that he expects Ohio State’s standard rotation of 6-7 receivers to continue, which means being third on any depth chart is not the best place to be if a receiver wants to get into the rotation.
Behind Victor at X is junior Jaylen Harris, so how much Wilson plays may actually come down to how much more effective he can be at Z than Harris can be at X. In other words, can Wilson prove that he is capable of being the second Z with Olave, thereby allowing Mack to move back and team with Victor as they’ve done the previous two years?
Receivers coach Brian Hartline may not yet know how he is going to handle the situation, but he is probably going to have to figure it out because Garrett Wilson doesn’t seem to get bogged down by things like youth or inexperience…or defense.
What They Are Saying
“My best compliment to him, I told him, ‘You don’t act like a freshman.’ When he first got in, he’ll tell you, it was kind of a culture change. The kid should still be in high school. He’s just doing a phenomenal job. Whether I’m throwing him at Z, at X, his mental retention is really good, he really wants to learn from the guys, he’s buying into the culture. So everything he’s doing right now is on the right track and I’m excited for him to continue to take small steps.” — Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline on Garrett Wilson.
“Yeah, he’s definitely a prime-time player, but I would say how strong his hands are. He also had that play where he got up on that fade route. He’s been doing that all spring. That’s not news. Nobody on the team is surprised by that. We were all just like, ‘Yeah, we knew that was going to happen.’” — Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields on what stands out about Garrett Wilson.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth from Garrett, from the day he walked in and the offseason training to spring football. I feel like the main thing he developed is as a person. He’s growing up already from a little boy to a man. And I feel like that’s why he’s making those plays. He’s humble, he’s soaking up everything in camp and learning. That’s all he wants to do is learn, and he’s coachable. — Ohio State receiver KJ Hill on Garrett Wilson.