Position by Position Recruiting Summary – Wide Receiver/Tight Ends

Today we delve further into the future of recruiting at Ohio State with a look at the wide receivers and tight ends. The Buckeyes have lost some great playmakers to the NFL over the past few years, so they need to bring in freshmen who can make an instant impact to keep momentum going. The wide receiver and tight end positions have me a little concerned going into this season since the guys on the roster have had limited playing time and catches. The potential is there, however, in Corey Smith, Paris Campbell, and Noah Brown, who went down early last year with an injury. There is also a lot of young talent on the team in KJ Hill, Austin Mack, and Torrance Gibson – all of whom have yet to see the field. Zach Smith and #Zone6 have their work cut out for them this year, but they have a reliable quarterback in JT Barrett to distribute the ball, which should make things a bit easier on them.

2016 Projected Depth Chart:

WR#1 – Noah Brown – Sophomore (RS)

WR#2 – Corey Smith – Senior (RS)

WR#3 – Paris Campbell – Sophomore (RS)

WR#4 – Austin Mack – Freshman

WR#5 – KJ Hill – Freshman (RS)

WR#6 – Torrance Gibson – Freshman (RS)

TE #1 – Marcus Baugh – Junior (RS)

TE #2 – A.J. Alexander – Freshman (RS)

Brown showed signs of breaking out big time last year before the leg injury took him out for the season. I see him getting back to 100% by fall practice and becoming JT’s new favorite target come game one. Smith has shown flashes of brilliance, but more often than not, he goes unnoticed on the field; this is his final year as a Buckeye, so he has one last chance to make a name for himself. The rest of the players on the projected depth chart are interchangeable. Campbell has the edge at #3 because he played some last year while dealing with an injury, but if he doesn’t catch on in practice, he could be moved back to the defensive side of the ball.

There are plenty of targets on this Buckeye roster, but the key is developing them into playmakers and guys Barrett can rely on when he needs to throw a deep ball down field or a check-down in the flat. H-backs Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson will undoubtedly catch quite a few balls out of the backfield this season, but Barrett will need at least one of the young freshmen receivers to shine if the Buckeyes hope to scare anyone with their passing game. The tight ends are even greener than the receivers – the kids on the roster only have three combined catches in collegiate games. Baugh will be the #1 guy going into the season since he had some extended playing time at the end of last season. After him, Alexander and incoming freshman Jake Hausmann and Luke Farrell will have to battle it out for catches.

Now that I’ve covered the Buckeyes’ existing prospects, let’s look at potential recruiting classes over the next couple of years.

The 2017 class of receivers is quite talented, and Ohio State has leads on quite a few of the high-profile names from all over the country. Trevon Grimes out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida is probably #1 on the Buckeyes’ list of must-gets at the wideout position. Fortunately, he’s had Ohio State at the top of his list for quite some time even after visiting other programs. If the Crystal Ball prediction is any indicator, he’s going to be a Buckeye – 91% of the predictions have him in the scarlet and gray. Tyjon Lindsey is the newest name on the Buckeyes’ radar. The star wideout from Centennial High School in Corona, CA, will be one to watch as his recruitment picks up. He recently released a list of his top 10 teams, and Ohio State made the cut. Also keep an eye on Donovan People-Jones out of Michigan and Jaylen Harris out of Cleveland. Peoples-Jones will be at the spring game this weekend, and Harris has a 100% Crystal Ball prediction to Ohio State right now. If the Buckeyes have room for three, they take Grimes, Lindsey, and Harris and call it a day. I’m most uncertain about Lindsey, so he’s definitely the wildcard in the mix. The Buckeyes need to be selective at the tight end position because they don’t have much scholarship room to swing and miss. Currently, their only offer is to Matt Dotson out of Cincinnati Moeller. He’s visited a number of colleges lately, but his Crystal Ball prediction narrows the field to Ohio State and Tennessee. I see Dotson becoming a Buckeye if there is room for him in this class.

2017 Depth Chart Projections:

WR#1 – Noah Brown – Junior (RS)

WR#2 – Austin Mack – Sophomore

WR#3 – Paris Campbell – Junior (RS)

WR#4 – KJ Hill – Sophomore (RS)

WR#5 – Trevon Grimes – Freshman

WR#6 – Torrance Gibson – Sophomore (RS)

TE#1 – Marcus Baugh – Senior (RS)

TE#2 – A.J. Alexander – Sophomore (RS)

TE#3 – Jake Hausmann – Freshman (RS)

The Buckeyes will bring back the majority of their skill position players in 2017, leaving Urban Meyer and Ed Warinner scheming up ways to get all the playmakers the ball. The scholarship cap remains tight for 2018, so the Buckeyes will continue to be selective.  Right now, they only have three offers out to potential wide receivers and tight ends. One is Jermaine Eskridge is out of Tampa, Florida, who currently holds 31 offers from the likes of Florida, Michigan, and USC. The second offer went to Brian Hightower, another wideout at IMG Academy in Florida. Although he plays on a roster full of future Buckeyes, Hightower also has quite a few offers from top schools, and I think he’ll be a hard pull for Ohio State. The most recent offer went to L’Christian Smith out of Wayne High School in Dayton. He holds offers from Michigan, Penn State, and a few other schools, and early Crystal Ball predications have him split between Ohio State and Michigan State. I expect the Buckeyes to take two or three wide receivers in 2018, and possibly another tight end, but it’s too early in the recruiting process to make a definitive guess.

2018 Depth Chart Projections:

WR#1 – Noah Brown – Senior (RS)

WR#2 – Austin Mack – Junior

WR#3 – Trevon Grimes – Sophomore

WR#4 – Paris Campbell – Senior (RS)

WR#5 – KJ Hill – Junior (RS)

WR#6 – Torrance Gibson – Junior (RS)

TE#1 – A.J. Alexander – Junior (RS)

TE#2 – Jake Hausmann – Sophomore (RS)

TE#3 – Luke Farrell – Sophomore (RS)

As always, the Buckeyes have plenty of talented playmakers at the wide receiver and tight end positions, but the challenge is developing them into good route runners and quality blockers that are the meat and potatoes of the passing game. With JT Barrett leading the way for the Buckeyes for (hopefully) the next two seasons, I see the weapons on the outside shaping up nicely as long as they stay healthy.

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