COLUMBUS — Ohio State was without the teams’ leading wide receiver Garrett Wilson coming into the game against Nebraska. It was clear that someone from Zone6 was going to have to step up and make up for the production the Buckeyes’ wouldn’t be getting from Wilson.
That someone, was sophomore receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Even when Ohio State has struggled offensively this season, Smith-Njigba has always been the consistent bright spot of the offense. In the loss to Oregon, he had a record day recording seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns. When the run game was shut down against Penn State, Smith-Njigba’s presence offensively was felt. He was the only Buckeye on offense who graded out a champion from that game.
The story was no different on Saturday at Nebraska.
Smith-Njigba set a new career best with his 15 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown against the Cornhuskers.
Smith-Njigba also set the single game-reception record for Ohio State. The previous record of 14 catches was set by David Boston at Penn State in 1997.
He also became the first Buckeye to have more than 200 yards receiving since Santonio Holmes’ 224 yards vs Marshall in 2004. His 240 yards are good for second in school history and were just short of the late Terry Glenn’s 253 yards at Pitt in 1995.
The Buckeye offense was once again struggling to get the ball moving, but redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud had a sure-thing target in Smith-Njigba, even though that wasn’t the plan coming into the game.
“Our scheme is whoever is open, they get the ball,” Stroud said following the win. “It’s not really you’re picking on one person to get the ball or the ball goes here to this guy just because he wants the ball. It’s just the scheme and whatever I see with the defense and the coverage and then that’s who gets the ball, whoever the beater is. But he was amazing, he has always been amazing. This doesn’t surprise me.”
For Smith-Njigba, he never knows what to expect coming into a game. He didn’t wake up Saturday morning knowing that it would be his day to shine. Instead, he just tries to be there when they need him.
“I just try to do my part and I got a lot of targets today,” Smith-Njigba said after the game. “I just try to make things happen and I felt really good.”
Although he missed playing with Wilson out there and he views himself as just a small piece of the offense, Smith-Njigba cherishes every opportunity to make a play for the Buckeyes.