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A 21-Year-Old Ohio State Record Could Fall in 2024

ohio state record

In 2003, Michael Jenkins set the Ohio State career receiving yards record by finishing with 2,746 yards on 156 catches over three years. Jenkins was a star for the Buckeyes at the beginning of the 21st century and was an integral part of the 2002 BCS National Championship-winning team. Now, 21 years later, his mark could finally fall.

Over the years, Chris Olave (2,711 years, second most), Marvin Harrison, Jr. (2,613 yards, fourth most), and Devin Smith (2,503 yards, fifth most), among others, have come close. With a full season ahead of him — with the possibility of a full 16-game season — Emeka Egbuka is in line to be the sole owner of the Ohio State receiving yards record. Heading into the 2024 season, Egbuka is just 890 yards away from breaking the mark. Additionally, if he puts up a new career best with 77 receptions, he’d unseat K.J. Hill with the most receptions.

Emeka Egbuka Can Break the Ohio State Receiving Yards Record in 2024

A Full Arsenal

Quite possibly the biggest obstacle to Egbuka breaking the record could be what decides it. It’s a well-established fact that Ohio State’s offense is loaded. Aside from Egbuka, the wide receivers room has potential true freshman phenom, Jeremiah Smith with a number of other five-star recruits in Brandon Inniss, Carnell Tate, and what have you.

Last year, Egbuka was opposite Harrison, Jr. and dealt with injuries, so he took a considerable step back from his breakout 2022 season. This record would be significantly more in reach had he replicated that success. As it’s been stated when it comes to Harrison, Jr.’s status as the top receiver in the NFL Draft as well as his presence at the Heisman Trophy ceremony, they both had to play with a significant drop-off at quarterback.

At the same time, no defense is going to be able to afford to double any of these weapons. The Chip Kelly offense is going to utilize Ohio State’s ridiculous one-two punch at running back, thus opening up the passing game. Will a defense double Egbuka? Smith and Tate are going to run free. Will they play man? Egbuka has shown he can beat man coverage and create separation.

With the attention paid to the plethora of weapons at Will Howard‘s (or any other quarterback who may win the competition) disposal, it’ll be a “pick your poison” scenario. Fully healthy in 2022 opposite Harrison, Jr., Egbuka caught 74 passes for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns. Perhaps now with another loaded room and, hopefully, an upgrade at quarterback, Egbuka will break that receiving record for the Buckeyes.

Egbuka to This Point

After a disappointing 2023 season, Egbuka elected to come back for his senior season. Ultimately, that was the right decision because he went from having mid-first-round hype to falling into day two of the NFL Draft. The talent is there and it has been obvious from the jump as he appeared in 10 games as a true freshman in 2019. In that season, Egbuka accounted for nine receptions for 191 yards (21.2 yards per catch).

He took a massive step forward in 2022 and he was able to fill the hole left by the injury-plagued Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Heading into the year, there was plenty of uncertainty regarding the receiver corps, aside from Smith-Njigba. After he and Harrison, Jr. demolished Utah’s defense in the Rose Bowl, the expectations were higher than sky-high. Then, Smith-Njigba suffered an injury in the season opener and was never able to get back to full health.

In his absence, Egbuka put up his career-best in every statistical category, as mentioned above. He was among the best receivers in the game even as Ohio State’s second option and had first-round hype heading into 2023.

It was not to be as Egbuka was marred by injuries. He only appeared in 10 games where he amassed 41 receptions, 515 yards, and five touchdowns. He had to have tightrope surgery on his ankle following the win over Maryland but overall, he was not nearly as effective. Could it have been the drop to Kyle McCord from C.J. Stroud? It’s very possible.

Circle the Northwestern Game

Heading into 2024, Egbuka is easily the veteran presence in the huddle. He should be the top receiver for the Ohio State offense. It wouldn’t be surprising if Smith leads the way in one way or another but Egbuka has shown that he’s plenty good enough to put up Harrison, Jr.-like numbers yet again.

Egbuka will need to have another 2022-type of season if he wants to break the Ohio State receiving yards record. In that year, he averaged 88.5 yards per game. Thus far in his entire career, Egbuka has averaged 56.3 yards per game. However, that does take into consideration his 10-game freshman season where he was not a featured part of the offense.

Over the last two years, Egubka averaged 72.4 yards per game. If he were to play to that average next year, it would take him just over 12 games to reach that goal of 890 yards.

Assuming health and even a slight upgrade at quarterback, it can be logical to believe that Egbuka can break the record in less time. Ohio State’s first four games provide plenty of opportunities to rack up yardage for Egubka with two MAC teams, Marshall, and Michigan State. Facing off against Iowa will be a challenge on offense, as it has been over the tenure of Kirk Ferentz. And then, of course, the Big Ten slate down the line will be its own challenge.

If he could replicate his 2022 mark, Egbuka could break the record in just over 10 games. Game 10 is at Northwestern (at Wrigley Field). It’s realistic that he will perform better than his averages. Achieving the mark against the Wildcats is well within the realm of possibilities.

ohio state record
Photo courtesy: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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