Every year following Ohio State spring football we recap what happened position by position.
Who stepped up, who stepped back, what got fixed, and what didn’t?
With 12 of the 15 spring practices cancelled due to the pandemic, however, essentially nothing happened, nothing got fixed, nobody stepped up, and no questions got answered.
So since we can’t talk about which questions got answered, we will instead discuss which questions still remain.
Position by position.
Who is the X?
Garrett Wilson and Binjimen Victor split time at the X receiver spot last season and combined for 64 receptions for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns. With Wilson’s move to the slot and Victor’s graduation, there isn’t much returning in the way of production at the X.
The good news for Ohio State, however, is that senior Jaylen Harris had emerged in the offseason as a leader of the young receivers. Harris has just five career catches to his credit, but has been behind Victor, Austin Mack, and Wilson for his entire career. There is nobody in front of him now, and it’s his job to keep it that way.
With Chris Olave and Jameson Williams at the Z, Harris will likely have company from freshmen Gee Scott and Julian Fleming, as well as fourth-year junior Ellijah Gardiner.
What can the freshmen do?
Because of the losses of Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and KJ Hill, the Buckeyes need as many of the four incoming freshmen to contribute as much as possible. Those freshmen — Gee Scott, Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Mookie Cooper — were all blue-chip prospects who could have gone anywhere in the nation to play football. They are all clearly talented, but head coach Ryan Day and receivers coach Brian Hartline only got to see them in three practices this spring.
Fortunately for everyone involved, all four enrolled early, so they’ll have a leg up this season. Missing out on spring makes things more difficult, but they are better equipped than most freshmen to pick things up in the fall and go from there.
Will Garrett Wilson feel at home at H?
Garrett Wilson seems like the kind of receiver who feels at home anywhere you put him. He’s a natural athlete who can transfer every bit of his athleticism to his play on the field. As a true freshman, most people expected him to play the Z receiver position because that fit his body type. Instead, when the season began, he was at the X, where he stayed all year long and posted 30 catches for 432 yards and five touchdowns. It was the best true freshman season for a Buckeye wide receiver since David Boston went for 33 receptions for 450 yards and seven touchdowns.
This spring, Wilson opened up in the slot. The staff needs somebody to step up in KJ Hill’s absence, and Brian Hartline believes Garrett Wilson is one of the men for the job. Given his spatial awareness, ability to locate the ball, and then catch it, he seems like a perfect fit as an inside receiver. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little bit longer for those notions to be confirmed.