Ohio State has entered the "Wide Receiver University" chat. Eleven wideouts selected in the past decade will do that.
And Jaxon Smith-Njigba is next in line. He managed to stand out on a offense that featured two first-round picks at receiver and was likely part of the reason why Jameson Williams -- oh yeah, another first-round pick -- decided to transfer from Ohio State to Alabama after the 2020 season.
Smith-Njigba isn't an overachiever with an underdog story. He was a five-star recruit and the No. 5 receiver in the country in the class of 2020, per 247 Sports.
So right now, just weeks before the start of his third season at Ohio State, where does Smith-Njigba rank among recent Buckeyes wideout prospects? Let's rank them.
Important to remember here: This is how these players were universally viewed as prospects, factoring in off-field and maturity issues. Their NFL careers had no bearing on these rankings. Let's go!
7. Terry McLaurin (2019)
McLaurin's journey to where he is today -- a stud on a cusp of being a superstar at the receiver position -- is fascinating and unique. He was an "old," minimally productive player on a loaded Ohio State roster. His best season came as a 23-year-old senior, and it was a good one with 35 grabs for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns. In the three years before that, McLaurin caught a grand total of 40 passes for 550 yards with eight scores. But McLaurin represents why traits, not productivity, are prioritized in the draft process. And there's an argument no one has crushed that process quite like McLaurin. He was uncoverable at the Senior Bowl that January in Mobile, Alabama, then ran 4.35 at over 6-foot and nearly 210 pounds at the combine. There were still plenty of reservations about his one-year wonder status, and if he was simply a practice/workout warrior. Typing those reservations feels foolish now, but they represented legitimate concerns, which is why McLaurin wasn't picked earlier than the third round. However, him going that early was the culmination of a meteoric rise.
6. Parris Campbell (2019)
Campbell was part of the track team the Buckeyes sent out there at receiver each week during the J.T. Barrett/Dwayne Haskins era. His career in Columbus swelled gradually, and ended with a 90-grab, 1,063-yard, 11-score season in 2018. The true junior ran 4.31 with a 40-inch vertical at the combine and that was that. He was destined for the second round, and there thoughts he could sneak into the first. Decently raw in his routes and when it came to the finer details of playing the position, Campbell was viewed as simply too productive and too explosive to land in the third round and was generally liked by the masses.
5. Curtis Samuel (2017)
The 40th pick in the 2017 draft was a gadget, do-whatever-is-needed offensive weapon at Ohio State, with over 1,200 career receiving and 1,200 rushing yards in his three-year stint playing his home games inside The Horseshoe. While Samuel was a few years ahead of the "wide back" era we're seemingly in the thick of in today's NFL, there was plenty to be excited about regarding his potential as a multidimensional weapon. Far from incredibly polished as a receiver, Samuel's sheer speed -- another 4.31 guy! -- at 5-11 and nearly 200 pounds made him a minimal-criticism selection by the Panthers early in Round 2 that year.
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4. Michael Thomas (2016)
Thomas' time as a prospects predates my time at CBS Sports, but I vividly remember him being widely viewed as underrated during the 2016 cycle, which looking back, is interesting because he was initially dubbed as a second-round talent, but if so many people thought he was being undervalued, it's strange he wasn't selected sooner. Ezekiel Elliott was the dude in Ohio State's offense for both of Thomas' seasons as a full-time player, but the 6-3 wideout still managed over 50 catches and 700 plus yards in each season, and he caught 18 total touchdowns. And the 2016 draft class of receivers was weird, man. The vast majority of us were wrong at the top. I mean, Corey Coleman then Will Fuller then Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, Sterling Shepard and then Michael Thomas? Whoops. Enough though he was the sixth receiver off the board in 2016, Thomas was seen as a safe selection. Good prospect.
3. Chris Olave (2022)
Olave's pedestrian yards-after-the-catch ability was the lone, consensus knock on him as a prospect just a few months ago. He flashed as early as his freshman season for the Buckeyes and rose to being a clear-cut, top-tier prospect by his junior campaign when he decided to return for one more go in Columbus. Blessed with impeccable ball-tracking skills and savvy route maneuverability, Olave was adored by the masses this past April.
2. Jaxson Smith-Njigba (2023)
When he was done at Ohio State, Olave's routes were viewed as more crisp than Smith-Njigba's are right now, but the latter was more explosive after the catch when the two were on the field together, there's no doubting that. And Smith-Njigba is nearly two years younger than Olave. It was Smith-Njigba who led the Buckeyes in receiving yards last year by more than 500 total yards. Now, the true junior doesn't appear to be an elite athletic specimen with low 4.3 speed but does play with serious suddenness, almost always reaching top speed faster than everyone else. With a studly junior year -- which is likely coming -- he could land in the No. 1 spot.
1. Garrett Wilson (2022)
Wilson was a conglomeration of Olave and Smith-Njigba -- he ran routes close to as sharp as Olave and played with comparable explosiveness to his younger counterpart with and without the football in his hands. And like Olave, everyone knew Wilson was destined for the first round after watching him in his freshman season for the Buckeyes. From dynamic run-after-the-catch splash plays to contested catches that appeared as though Wilson was afforded the luxury of bouncing off a trampoline, to scintillatingly fast go-route touchdowns, Wilson had it all from a skill and talent perspective, which is why he went ahead of Olave, and received the No. 1 spot here.