COLUMBUS — Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline spoke with reporters on Wednesday to recap the Buckeyes’ success in signing an impressive receiver haul in the 2020 recruiting class. Ohio State signed four of the top 15 receivers in the nation. Hartline went over the skill set of each of the four and then talked about his future at Ohio State, which he hopes has no end in sight.
+ Landing these receivers is a group effort. It’s not just a two-person or three-person operation. It’s also more about the receivers. “They are the right guys.”
+ It is very important to get them ready to help out next year with so many guys leaving.
+ “We’re going to provide them with as many resources as possible to be successful.”
+ Where will the four receivers play? They want guys that are versatile. Mookie Cooper is definitely a guy who can play in the slot. The other three guys are flexible. “I kind of have a game plan in my head, but I kind of want to leave it there.” That is also based on the current guys and complementing what they do.
+ Anything is on the table regarding where each receiver will play. Like Austin Mack playing Z and H this year after only playing X his first three years. If you are a great receiver you can play any spot.
+ High school kids aren’t necessarily fans of NFL teams anymore. They’re fans of players. So having a guy like Michael Thomas being successful in the NFL is nice, but it goes beyond him and before him.
+ They liked Jaxon Smith-Njigba early. Mark Pantoni did a great job identifying him early on. Then you start talking to him. If you find a guy who has the right mental makeup, then you look at his physical traits. “Just really proud of him as a person.”
+ They weren’t concerned about who else was recruiting Jaxon Smith-Njigba. If you’re going to go after the best, you expect to compete against the best programs.
+ JSN, it’s hard to find his weakness. He runs great routes. He understands the offense. He’s coachable. He’s a playmaker who plays at a different speed.
+ Mookie Cooper is a smaller guy, but stocky. When he blocks, he tries to knock you out. Can do speed sweeps and also make plays down the field. There may be some transition because he played some running back and missed last year. He’s very twitched up.
+ Gee Scott is a bigger-body guy. 6-3 or 6-4 and runs well. Physical, great blocker. Swallows the ball. He high-points the ball well. Pretty polished. Will work with Coach Mick to get faster. “I don’t know what he can’t do.”
+ Julian Fleming is 6-2 who runs really well. Great ball skills. Physical in the run game. He’s in a heavy run offense. Maybe his expectations for targets will be low (joking). He hasn’t had a lot of exposure running routes, so there will be development needed there.
+ All four have a dire need to be great. “That’s where I fall in love.”
+ He knows one day he’ll miss on a recruit and it will crush him.
+ Being called a recruiter rubs him the wrong way. This is Ohio State. “This place is amazing. I just try to communicate that as clearly as possible.” “I get the headline, but I feel like the puppet.”
+ KJ Hill is a staple. If you take him out of the room, they are not nearly as talented.
+ Jaxon Smith-Njigba has put up huge numbers, but he’s just as impressive as a person. None of the attention has changed him.
+ They weren’t looking for a short receiver when they signed Mookie Cooper. They were looking for skill sets. He provides a different skill set than anybody else they have. His return capabilities are phenomenal. If you’re going to be 5-10 in this offense, you still have to be able to block and you can’t do it at 170 pounds.
+ “I love coaching the wide receivers.” “I don’t see a situation where I’m out of here any time soon.”