Emeka Egbuka Ohio State Buckeyes Wide Receiver

Ohio State Wide Receiver Depth ‘A Legitimate Question’

There may not be a single college football program in the nation that would turn down the idea of swapping receiver rooms with Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have generally been the envy of the majority when it comes to pass catchers, and this year will be no different. But they just may not be as deep as they have been recently.

Everyone knows that Ohio State has lost Marvin Harrison, Jr. to the NFL. He was the school’s first two-time Unanimous All-American at wide receiver. But he is not the only key departure. Julian Fleming transferred to Penn State after starting last year for the Buckeyes. Xavier Johnson has finally played out his eligibility. Talented Noah Rogers transferred closer to home after his freshman season.

Outside of returning starter Emeka Egbuka and his 124 career receptions, the rest of the Buckeye receivers on OSU’s spring roster have caught a combined 29 career receptions.

There is definitely talent. Carnell Tate had a solid freshman season last year with 18 catches for 264 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Jeremiah Smith was one of the stars of the entire spring, making highlight catches look routine. Redshirt freshman Bryson Rodgers continued his solid play, and Jayden Ballard finished strong.

But depth is still a concern.

“I think it’s a legitimate question,” head coach Ryan Day said after last Saturday’s spring game. “I think when you have ‘Meka and Carnell, and then Jayden Ballard, Jeremiah, then you get into Bryson Rodgers, who has done some really good things this spring — I know he had a couple of tough plays today, but we think he can really help us next year. We’re missing Brandon Inniss.”

Inniss missed much of the spring in order to have a procedure done on his lower leg. The staff “didn’t want it to linger.” Inniss only caught one pass last year as a true freshman, but it went for a 58-yard touchdown. A former five-star prospect, the Buckeyes will need him to add to that playmaking depth this season.

“He was having a lot of momentum and then there was a procedure we just felt like out of caution we had to get it done,” Day said. “We’ll need him to step up in a big way.”

With the Ohio State coaches talking about playing more and more depth this season, receivers coach Brian Hartline will push his guys to get them ready. The Buckeyes went about five deep at receiver last year. They’d like to go deeper than that this year.

“We’re going to need a couple more guys to step up to build that depth there,” Day said. “Because we do have some really good players, but we’re gonna need them all. So I think it’s important that some of those younger guys do step up.”

Losing three veterans from last year’s team and a freshman transfer was definitely a hit to the numbers, but two more freshmen will be added this summer when five-star Indiana signee Mylan Graham and Glenville star Damarion Witten get to town.

They’ll be a little behind the rest of the roster, but the room isn’t so deep that another freshman couldn’t make some noise.

“We are going to get Mylan this summer, and we’re going to get Damarion Witten who’s going to play a little bit of receiver, a little bit of tight end,” Day said. “So we do have some young guys, and to your point they’re going to have to help us.”

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