The No. 4 player on this list missed his junior season in high school and because of that didn’t show up on most recruiting radars until it was too late to keep him away from Ohio State, where he emerged as a legitimate weapon late last season as a true freshman.
No. 4 — Chris Olave, Sophomore Wide Receiver
According to ESPN, there were 156 receivers in the 2018 recruiting class that were better than Chris Olave.
Olave was ranked the No. 82 player in the state of California in the 2018 class by ESPN. He was behind players who signed with Boise State, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah, Wyoming, Fresno State, and San Diego State.
The main reason Olave was so overlooked is because he missed his junior year due to transfer. He made up for it as a senior, however, by catching 93 passes for a San Diego Section-record 1,764 yards and 26 touchdowns.
As it was, Olave was one of Ohio State’s lowest-ranked recruits in the 2018 class, but he quickly turned into one of the most advanced freshmen for the Buckeyes last year as well.
Olave played in every game last season, with much of his early time coming on special teams.
His time on offense increased with the injury to Austin Mack, as did his impact. Olave had two key receptions at Michigan State, but everybody remembers the game against Michigan with two 24-yard touchdown catches and a punt block.
Olave then added a career-high five catches for a career-high 79 yards and a not-career-high one touchdown in the Big Ten Championship Game.
What He Does Well
We will talk about what he does well, but sometimes it’s just easier to show you.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) August 3, 2019
After last season, departing receiver Parris Campbell mentioned that people haven’t seen everything that Chris Olave can do because he hadn’t even had a chance to show off his speed.
Even without those exhibitions, we still saw plenty.
Olave is quick, fast, and is more aware of his surroundings than a motion detector. Although there is some similarity in that both light up when a defender is around.
Olave is able to escape after the initial catch, which is one of the first ingredients necessary for a playmaker. He can high-point the football with strong hands and became a reliable weapon by the end of the season for the Buckeyes.
Chris Olave In 2019
We have seen Chris Olave catch screens, outs, comebacks, and drag routes across the middle of the field. Dwayne Haskins threw one up to him against Michigan for a 24-yard score, but we haven’t really seen him involved in the deep game. Expect that to change this season.
Olave will be one of the top two Z receivers on the field this season for the Buckeyes, but we don’t yet know if that other Z will be senior Austin Mack or freshman Garrett Wilson. And it may change from one month to the next.
But it doesn’t really matter where anybody else is because Chris Olave will make his own room.
He should become one of the most reliable targets on the field for the Buckeyes this season, and also one of the most dangerous.
Last season was just a trailer. This year will be the feature film.
What They Are Saying
“Chris is doing well. A lot of other people in the room are doing really well but Chris specifically has taken an older approach, not a freshman anymore and he’s stepping up and being the guy.” — Senior receiver Austin Mack on Chris Olave’s approach since last season.
“To me, I always talk to the guys. And in the end, greatness is only measured one way and it’s by consistency. I say this a lot, everyone makes the same shot that Michael Jordan makes, they just don’t make it as consistently, they don’t make it at the crunch times. Everyone can do it but the question is how often can you do it? So challenging his consistency, challenging how dominant he can be. When the ball is in the air, how often is it yours versus it being knocked down or you’re covered. Again, his level of consistency will change whether he’s a good player or a great player.” — Receivers coach Brian Hartline on the biggest thing that Chris Olave needed to improve upon in the spring.