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2024 Ohio State Wide Receiver Room is Unproven, Talented

The Ohio State wide receiver room has been synonymous with elite of late. With only one proven player, there's uncertainty.
ohio state wide receiver

For a while, the Ohio State secondary was the go-to source of pride for Buckeyes fans. Then, the secondary faltered for a bit, and Brian Hartline‘s efforts as receiver’s coach began to pay dividends. The 2024 Ohio State wide receiver room is a bucket of wonders and hype with only one proven commodity.

Ohio State’s recruiting at wide receiver has been arguably unrivaled over the last four or five years and the program has put plenty of players in the NFL. Over the last 10 NFL Drafts, Ohio State has had 13 draft picks, 10 of which were in one of the first three rounds. Marvin Harrison, Jr. was the latest first-round talent. He was the fourth first-rounder over the last three years and 12th in the history of the program.

After sending the highest-drafted receiver in program history, the Ohio State wide receiver room has to once again reload. There are plenty of reasons for optimism when looking at recruiting and expectations. At the same time, the leading returning receiver behind the established senior at the top had 18 catches last year.

The 2024 Ohio State Wide Receivers Are Untested, Ready to Step Up

Projected Starters

The unquestioned leader of the group has to be the two-year starter, Emeka Egbuka. Last year, the projected first-rounder was hampered by injuries and took a substantial step back from his breakout performance a year prior. Egbuka could have joined Harrison in the NFL and declared and tested into first-round territory. He elected to return with unfinished business. With a solid season, Egbuka will end up with the Buckeyes’ career record for most receiving yards. Additionally, K.J. Hill‘s career receptions mark is within reach. Even with the rest of the talent on the roster, the Buckeyes and Will Howard will look to Egbuka to lead the way.

A player who is expected to be great and could even end up as the leading receiver is none other than true freshman, Jeremiah Smith. There have been a few freshmen in history to make their mark for the Buckeyes. However, Smith has his eyes set on Chris Carter‘s mark of 41 catches, 648 yards, and eight touchdowns as a true freshman. If the top Ohio State receivers have a year comparable to what the unit put up in 2021, Smith could even end up with over 1,000.

Speaking of the 2021 offense, Ohio State was 64 yards away from having three 1,000-yard receivers. If Howard is able to take a step, Carnell Tate is on his way. Tate is another four-star receiver who was given an opportunity to contribute last year while Egbuka battled those injuries. He accounted for 18 receptions, 264 yards, and scored a touchdown in the win over Western Kentucky. Last year, he had the sixth-most receptions. With three of those ahead of him no longer with the team, he’s set to make an impact.

Next Men Up

Likely the guy who will be the fourth receiver is redshirt junior, Jayden Ballard. Thus far in his career, Ballard has been just on the outside looking in. In three years, he’s only recorded nine catches for 159 yards and a touchdown. Last year, he was used primarily as a punt returner as he did not record a single reception while returning nine punts. Ballard was a four-star recruit in the 2021 cycle and is looking to finally contribute. In a Spring presser, Ryan Day lauded Ballard as the “fastest guy on the team.” Day also said the team needs him to step up in 2024.

Due to an injury in the Spring, Brandon Inniss was not able to showcase what he brings to the team. As a five-star recruit in the 2023 class, expectations were high. Between him and Tate, it was going to be a race to see who made an impact first. Tate won round one, of course. Inniss appeared in eight games for the Buckeyes and logged a single catch. That catch, however, was a 58-yard touchdown as Ohio State was putting Purdue away. Once healthy, Inniss projects to be part of the Ohio State wide receivers rotation.

Perhaps a wild card in the rotation will be true freshman five-star, Mylan Graham. When Ohio State brings in multiple top-ranked receivers, the one with lower expectations seems to be the one to break out. Now, with Smith, that could be curtailed in 2024. However, Graham is not a receiver to overlook despite being one of the few to not enroll early. He was a five-star recruit for a reason and chose Ohio State over a handful of SEC programs. Allen Trieu of 247Sports likens Graham’s game to CeeDee Lamb, so he will be one to watch.

Waiting for Their Chance

With Kyion Grayes and Noah Rogers hitting the transfer portal, the back end of the receiver room is light. However, there are two highly touted receivers providing depth for the Buckeyes.

After appearing in two games and not recording a stat as a true freshman, former four-star receiver Bryson Rodgers tested out the transfer portal. After “finding clarity,” Rodgers decided to return to the Buckeyes. Harline and Day were able to talk him out of the portal and he will help round out the Ohio State wide receivers unit. He’s a quick, slippery receiver and his peer, Tate, believes he has the best change-of-direction ability on the team. Rodgers returned because he wanted to feel valued. With how deep the room is, Day and Hartline will have to figure out ways to make sure he feels validated while making sure the unquestioned best talent hits the field.

Kojo Antwi, not to be confused with the Ghanaian “Mr. Music Man”, is also waiting on his opportunity. In his first two seasons, Antwi has appeared primarily on special teams in seven games. He appeared in two games last year, thus preserving his redshirt. In his recruiting class, Antwi was a top-20 receiver and boasted over 15 yards per reception in his high school career.

High Expectations

The Ohio State wide receiver room has been one of the best in college football for quite some time. From Devin Smith‘s College Football Playoff heroics to Chris Olave putting the team on his back against Michigan as a freshman, this unit has high expectations. Often, they are called upon to secure the win for the Buckeyes. Harrison could have been considered the Buckeyes’ only piece of offense on too many occasions last year.

For 2024, as it stands, there are a lot of unknowns. Assuming health, Egbuka is going to lead the way, at least in terms of targets and receptions. Smith just might have the highest ceiling of them all and this season is just the beginning. Will Inniss or Graham be the next man up right away?

The shoes to fill are massive. Under Hartline, there is an expectation that the Ohio State wide receiver room is to be elite. With an expected boost at quarterback, plus a serious one-two punch at running back, these receivers will have opportunities to make plays. Egbuka has shown that he deserves respect. Who is going to take advantage of the attention Egbuka warrants?

We are still months away from Week 1 versus Akron but it doesn’t hurt to daydream about what could be.


ohio state wide receiver
Photo courtesy: Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK


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