COLUMBUS — Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba is expected back in the Ohio State lineup for today’s game against Iowa. The Buckeyes have released their availability report for the contest and Smith-Njigba’s name is no longer listed among the injured.
Smith-Njigba has missed four games this year and played in just parts of two others. He has caught four passes for 36 yards this season.
In Smith-Njigba’s absence, sophomore Emeka Egbuka has stepped into the role as the Buckeyes’ primary slot receiver and has responded with 35 receptions for 655 yards and six touchdowns. The yards and touchdowns are both good for third in the Big Ten.
Even with the expected return of Smith-Njigba, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said this week that they would have to be careful not to try and force the ball to their returning star. Instead, they will do what they’ve done all year long — take what the defense gives them.
Also back for the Buckeye offense are running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams. Williams missed the Michigan State game two weeks ago and Henderson left the game with a leg injury. Day is looking forward to having them both back for today’s matchup against Iowa.
Defensively, the Buckeyes will be without starting cornerback Cameron Brown, who has been in and out of the lineup this season. Brown missed both the Wisconsin and Rutgers games this season. He played against the Spartans, but had a relatively rough game and spent some time watching redshirt freshman JK Johnson get snaps instead.
Johnson is expected to get the start for the Buckeyes. The good news in the cornerback room is that sophomore Jordan Hancock should be back this week. He has practiced and is expected to eventually challenge for a starting job this season.
Hancock has missed the entire season to this point, which has allowed JK Johnson to get some valuable reps after missing last season due to injury. Johnson already has a pair of starts this year and has played the second-most snaps among the Ohio State cornerbacks. He is the only Buckeye corner who has played in every game this year.
Ohio State will also be without safety captain Kourt Williams, who has suffered a long-term injury according to Day. He was seen on Wednesday sporting an apparatus around his arm and shoulder.
There are no game-time decisions for today’s game.
Here is the full availability report.
DE Omari Abor
WR Kamryn Babb
CB Cameron Brown
RB TC Caffey
WR Corban Cleveland
DE Tyler Friday
CB Lloyd McFarquhar
LB/DE Mitchell Melton
LB Teradja Mitchell
LB Jalen Pace
RB Evan Pryor
DL Bryce Prater
TE Joe Royer
SAF Kourt Williams