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Ohio State: Way-too-early prediction on top impact freshman for Buckeyes

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Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson could have an instant impact with the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

Ohio State: Way-too-early prediction on top impact freshman for Buckeyes

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on Ryan Day and the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about identifying an impact freshman like Garrett Wilson? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

The latest Ohio State signing class isn’t even officially complete yet, but it’s still already safe to start projecting ahead for what this fresh crop of touted athletes can provide in the fall. Nothing that happens on National Signing Day this week would change the fact that the clearest combination of a position of need and elite ability is already in the fold at wide receiver.

In fact, with Garrett Wilson enrolling early, participating in winter workouts and gearing up for spring practice, the five-star from Texas is almost a no-brainer as the top pick to make the splashiest debut for the Buckeyes this year. In fact, it would qualify as an upset if Wilson doesn’t work his way into the rotation right off the bat and make an impact for the surging passing attack as Ohio State replaces three seniors in Zone 6.

The departures of Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell certainly make it important for younger guys to emerge at wide receiver, and Ohio State has a couple other candidates to step up aside from Wilson. A healthy Kamryn Babb will be an intriguing option, Jaylen Harris has waited for his turn to help while developing as a reserve and Chris Olave is obviously in line for a prominent role after his stellar finish to his freshman season. So, it’s not like the Buckeyes are desperate or in danger of falling off completely if Wilson isn’t ready to explode the first time he steps into the Horseshoe.

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Brian Hartline will get a chance to mold Garrett Wilson into a star at Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

But his athleticism, maturity and the success Brian Hartline has already had molding wide receivers into game-changing threats all point to Wilson becoming a star in a hurry. And while there are other five-star talents on board like defensive end Zach Harrison and offensive lineman Harry Miller, there isn’t as much need on their respective units for freshmen to contribute right from Day One. Truthfully, given the way Ohio State has recruited over the last couple years and the amount of veterans who elected to stick around, there really aren’t many positions where much playing time is going to be available for newcomers — which is a sign of the strength of the program right now.

On defense in particular, there just isn’t much room to break into the lineup. The secondary is loaded, the linebackers have all three starters returning and a handful of guys ready to push for action behind them — and the defensive line is overflowing with talent.

Offensively, there is a need for more depth on the line, but freshmen aren’t generally prepared to handle the rigors of Big Ten competition in the trenches. The Buckeyes are set at tight end and didn’t sign a quarterback. There could be a crack in the door for Marcus Crowley to fight for backup reps behind J.K. Dobbins at tailback. But other than that, the clearest immediate path is at wide receiver.

The good news for Ohio State is that it landed one of the nation’s best prospects at the position. And Garrett Wilson is already getting started to lend his hands to the effort.

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This is normally the point of the year where we hear talk of the frosh WR that is going to come in and make the proverbial “big splash” and then it never seems to quite materialize. We heard about Dontre Wilson, Johnnie Dixon, Austin Mack, Binjimin Victor, L’Cristian “Blue” Smith, et.al. and they never play as freshman let alone make a significant impact. Wilson will fall into that mode as well! The WR Room(I hate that Zone6 nonsense) is loaded and Wilson will have a tough fight for PT. He has 3 possibly 4 years to show us what he… Read more »

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Last year it was Ruckert, Ruckert, Ruckert. Maybe Wilson has an opening, but everyone’s fav TE will be behind Farrell and Berry again.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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