The rich get richer is a phrase used often in sports, specifically in college football where winning breeds success for the top teams to continue to win. Ohio State is an example of this as the Buckeyes continue to dominate the Big Ten, both on the football field and in recruiting.
This is specifically true when it comes to the wide receiver position, and specifically in recruiting. While the Scarlet and Gray have a long and storied history of top receivers developing in their program, over the last three recruiting cycles, Ohio State has been in a class of its own even when compared to other top programs.
That trend of the Buckeyes being the landing spot for top high school wideouts continued on Monday evening when four-star Chicago receiver Kaleb Brown committed to the Scarlet and Gray. Brown, a product of St. Rita High School, is the sixth-ranked wide receiver in the 2022 class, per the 247Sports Composite, and ranks inside the top 65 players in the country.
A slot receiver by nature, the 5-foot-11, 177-pound Brown has experience playing running back, meaning he could be used similar to how Ohio State used H-Backs under Urban Meyer, taking jet sweeps and hand-offs out of the backfield. Brown, however, also has the ability to play on the outside, something many slot receivers around the country do not.
With this commitment, Brown joins a 2022 Scarlet and Gray class that is currently ranked No. 2 in the country behind Georgia but will jump to No. 1 once this announcement factors in. Brown joins five-star Austin, Texas product Caleb Burton and four-star Kyion Grayes out of Chandler, Arizona as the wide receivers in this class.
And the 2022 class is just another example of the incredible job Ohio State and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline have done on the recruiting trail in recent years.
The 2019 class was Hartline’s first real chance to flex his recruiting muscles after taking over the position full time the year prior. In that class, the Buckeyes landed five-star Garrett Wilson, the No. 2 player at his position that year, and four-star wideout Jameson Williams. At the time, this seemed like a major recruiting win for the Scarlet and Gray, who had a more dynamic passing attack the year prior with Ryan Day running the offense and Dwayne Haskins at quarterback.
In 2020, Hartline outdid himself, landing what may go down as the best receiving haul in college football recruiting history. Ohio State signed four receivers in the class, Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr. and Mookie Cooper, all of which ranked inside the top 16 nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite. Fleming was the No. 1 receiver in the class and third overall prospect.
While the 2021 class didn’t live up to 2020’s when it came to numbers, the Buckeyes again recruited a talented group of receivers to Columbus, Ohio. For the second straight year, the Scarlet and Gray signed the country’s No. 1 wideout in Steilacoom, Washington’s Emeka Egbuka. Four-stars Marvin Harrison Jr., the son of the Pro Football Hall of Famer, and Jayden Ballard joined Egbuka as Ohio State commits, helping to further the Buckeyes’ reputation as Wide Receiver University.
Excitement in recruiting is great in college football, but it has to translate on the field for that excitement to mean anything. The Scarlet and Gray have shown the capability of not only luring top high school receivers to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center but developing those players into collegiate stars as well.
Chris Olave is the main example of development. A former three-star recruit, albeit underrecruited due to not playing as a junior in high school, Olave turned into one of the country’s top receivers during his first three seasons at Ohio State. Thought of as a late-first or early-second round pick, Olave elected to return to the Buckeyes for his senior year to help cement his NFL Draft stock.
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Wilson too has developed well under Hartline. He is expected to be in contention for a first-round selection following his junior year in 2021. And others now await their opportunity to shine.
This leaves the Scarlet and Gray with an embarrassment of riches at receiver heading into the upcoming season, even after the transfers of Williams and Cooper, and a headache most receiver coaches would suffer through to have the type of talent Ohio State has, thanks to recruiting and development, in the wideout room.