Emeka Egbuka Ohio State Buckeyes Wide Receiver

Emeka Egbuka Playing In Cotton Bowl, Weighing NFL Options

Thanks to a pair of transfers, the Ohio State offense will be missing starting quarterback Kyle McCord and starting receiver Julian Fleming later this month when the Buckeyes take on Missouri in the Cotton Bowl. They will, however, have at least one starting receiver on the field in the form of junior Emeka Egbuka.

While Ohio State is still waiting word on whether All-American receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. will play, Egbuka spoke about his decision to “opt-in” earlier in the week. He sees it as one more opportunity to be on the field with this edition of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

As to his future after this season, however, there will still be a decision that needs to made.

“Yeah, I mean, there’s a ton of factors that go into it as far as the things I’m deciding between,” Egbuka explained. “That’s something that I’ve kind of just been working through with my corner, my family and all that type of stuff. Stuff that I don’t necessarily want to get into right now. But there’s positives on both sides. There’s negatives on both sides, as well. So it’s definitely a decision that is going to be important. But it’s nothing that the people here at Ohio State won’t help me with.”

Juniors like Egbuka who are considering leaving early for the NFL have received their feedback from the NFL as to where they can expect to be drafted. Since an outstanding sophomore season in 2022 when he caught 74 passes for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns, Egbuka has been projected as a first-round draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Those projections may have hit a snag this season due to an ankle injury that sidelined Egbuka for three games and has helped limit him to just 35 receptions for 452 yards and four touchdowns.

Egbuka is still projected to end up in the first round by CBS Sports’ draft rankings, which have him ranked as the No. 4 receiver in the draft and the No. 20 prospect overall.

The injury was a setback to be sure, but Egbuka isn’t letting it keep him down.

“I mean, it’s unfortunate, to say the least,” he said. “But ultimately, I put my trust in something that’s above me, and that’s Jesus Christ. I believe His plan is sovereign and His plan is perfect and His will is always going to come to fruition. So my injury is something that was ordained, and it’s something that later down the line, I’ll be able to see the reason for. And I feel like the lessons you get from tribulations that you face, you might not always get them right away, but once you recognize them, you realize what a blessing it was.”

While Egbuka will weigh many factors in his decision-making process, one of the items that won’t make the list is the Ohio State quarterback situation.

The Buckeyes will be starting a new quarterback next season, and there is still a question of whether or not that quarterback is actually on campus yet. Redshirt freshman Devin Brown will likely get the start in the Cotton Bowl, and true freshman Lincoln Kienholz will be in competition for the starting job next season. The Buckeyes could also look to the transfer portal for a starting quarterback, just as they did in 2019 when head coach Ryan Day landed Justin Fields.

Given the quarterback history under Ryan Day, Egbuka isn’t too concerned about the position next year.

“I trust in the coaching staff that they’re always going to provide good quarterback play,” he said. “I mean, it’s Ohio State, people can say what they want about Kyle, we went 11-1, we had a great season. Unfortunately, we lost to the team up north. But you can’t really discredit the things that he did. We had a Biletnikoff winner, you can’t just have that with a terrible quarterback, you know? So there’s not too much to be said about the quarterback play. I think it’s always going to be top tier at Ohio State.”

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2024 NFL Draft is January 15.

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