Yesterday, Tom and I were taking part in a teleconference about water coolers when I mentioned to him that a better version of a water cooler would have Diet Dr. Pepper in it. Unfortunately, what I said went over the entire call, enraging the various water cooler salesmen who were trying to up-sell us on their latest and greatest wares.
“Diet Dr. Pepper?” one of them raged, “Are you kidding me?”
“Sorry, that was Tom,” I said. “My apologies. Now please tell us more about your upside down water buckets.”
With the phones on mute, Tom and I then began to finish our previous conversation about breakout players for the Buckeyes this year.
This time, we focused on the offense.
Since I have a pretty good idea of who Tom is going to choose, I thought I would go first.
When we consider breakout players, we could look at running back, where JK Dobbins must be replaced. Except I’m not sure that Trey Sermon would be considered a breakout player when he has 2,000 yards rushing in his career. Sure, he’s new to Buckeye fans, but that doesn’t really count.
There is also Master Teague, but he rushed for 789 yards last year, so he’s not really much of an unknown either. In fact, it might be difficult for any running back to break out if they’re all splitting carries.
Sophomore offensive lineman Harry Miller is a sneaky candidate because he should be fantastic this season. Redshirt sophomore Nicholas Petit-Frere could also be mentioned at right tackle.
Instead, however, we’re going to the receivers.
I firmly believe that freshman Jaxon Smith-Njigba is going to have a fantastic career at Ohio State and could have a freshman season like Garrett Wilson did last year with 30 catches for 432 yards and five touchdowns.
But just wait until you see what Wilson does this season as a sophomore.
The staff moved him into the slot, which is where Parris Campbell and KJ Hill teamed up for 158 catches in 2018. Last year, Hill posted 57 catches for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns and became Ohio State’s all-time receptions leader.
Wilson is going to become a focal point of this offense, just as the H-backs have been since Urban Meyer’s arrival.
Ohio State’s starting slot receiver since 2012 has averaged 56 receptions per year, and that includes 2014 and 2015 when the positions were shared by several players.
Garrett Wilson should have a monster year for the Buckeyes, and that is why he is my pick here.
In 2018, Parris Campbell became OSU’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Michael Jenkins in 2002. Wilson could very well become the second, assuming Chris Olave doesn’t beat him to the punch, of course.
Much like the Ohio State defense, there are a multitude of different options to choose from when picking a breakout star for the 2020 Ohio State offense.
It’s hard to imagine Justin Fields being all that much better than his 2019 season (67 percent completions, 3,273 yards, 41/3 TD/INT ratio). But if he somehow makes a Joe Burrow-sized leap from his first to second year in a new system, you can start engraving the national championship trophy now.
Master Teague was one of the Big Ten’s leading rushers for much of 2019 despite being a backup. In a starting role, he could take that next step. But his leg injury is a concern.
Ditto for new grad transfer Trey Sermon, who could be the next great OSU running back, but who has some uncertainty following a knee injury last fall.
I’m guessing Gerd will take Garrett Wilson, who already looked like a star in the making as a freshman, and who should take a massive leap forward in 2020 – especially if he ends up as an H receiver.
You could take virtually anyone in that receiver room from freshman Jaxon Smith-Njigba to junior Chris Olave and have a decent chance of hitting a legitimate breakout player. Jameson Williams? Sure. Julian Fleming? Why not?
But sophomore OL Harry Miller is my pick. Miller has been viewed as close to a sure thing on the offensive line since high school, and nothing we saw from him in 2019 has changed anyone’s mind on that front.
He was immediately on the two-deep after arriving last summer, and is the type of player who both coaches and teammates rave about.
Miller is the front-runner to win the open starting position at left guard, and will then slide over to center and end up being a Rimington Award-caliber player there whenever Josh Myers departs for the NFL.
Look for Miller to be a rare first-year starter who also wins all-conference honors this fall, and who ends up getting a tree in Buckeye Grove before his time in Columbus is over.