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.
Which player from the 2019 class will make the biggest impact this season? Who will play immediately? I’m guessing still no surprises Wednesday?
— Jess 🅾️☕️💫🥂 (@Buckeyetxgrl2_0) February 4, 2019
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.
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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