A look at each of Brian Hartline’s five wide receiver recruiting classes at Ohio State

Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr.

If you’ve been paying attention to Ohio State’s commitments this week, you already know the simple truth: Brian Hartline is good at recruiting.

That fact has become crystal clear over the past three days as Ohio State landed three consecutive wide receiver commitments who are all ranked top 50 prospects in the Class of 2023: Carnell Tate, Brandon Inniss and Noah Rogers. .

It’s not like Hartline’s recruiting prowess was a secret until this week, though. Ohio State has introduced elite wide receiver recruiting classes year after year since Hartline became Ohio State’s wide receiver coach midway through the 2019 recruiting cycle. These classes have consistently been among the best in the nation, creating a talent pool that has helped Ohio State achieve excellence at wide receiver for years to come.

In his first five recruiting cycles as wide receivers coach at Ohio State, Hartline landed 17 wide receiver commitments, and all but three were ranked top 100 prospects in their respective recruiting classes. .

Now that Ohio State has likely completed its 2023 recruiting class at wide receiver, and has done so in spectacular fashion, it’s worth taking a look at each of the top five classes of Hartline’s recruitment as a full-time assistant coach and why each of them was cause for celebration. For those whose participants actually started their careers at Ohio State, we also take a look at how those classes have fared so far.

2019: Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams

The first recruiting class in Brian Hartline’s tenure as wide receivers coach at Ohio State included just two receivers, but those two receivers are already among the top 12 picks in the NFL Draft.

Hartline was still just a quality control coach when Wilson committed to Ohio State, but he helped ensure Wilson remained committed to the Buckeyes following Zach Smith’s departures. and Urban Meyer. As the 20th overall prospect in the 2019 class, Wilson was the highest-rated wide receiver Ohio State had ever signed at the time, and he became exactly the player he was meant to be. In three seasons as a Buckeye (one of which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic), Wilson caught 143 passes for 2,213 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Williams, who became the first wide receiver to actually commit to Hartline in September 2018 while Hartline was the interim wide receiver coach at Ohio State, was a one-year starter for the Buckeyes in 2020 but n didn’t fully realize his potential until he was transferred to Alabama, where he was a 2021 Biletnikoff Award finalist. Hartline still had a role in Williams’ development, however, and his emergence as a top pick. first round only helps Hartline’s efforts to continue recruiting the best wide receivers in Columbus.

The only wide receiver in the class of 2019 selected higher than them in this year’s NFL Draft was USC’s Drake London, who was not offered by the Buckeyes as the cycle’s No. 247 overall prospect. .

2020: Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr., Mookie Cooper

Hartline quickly proved his ability to recruit at an elite level in his first full recruiting cycle on the job by bringing in the most talent-rich class of wide receivers in Ohio State history. Ohio State became only the second school (after Alabama in 2017) in the composite rankings era to land four wide receivers who were all ranked top 100 overall prospects in the same class of recruiting, and Hartline was ranked by 247Sports as the top recruiter in the nation. among the assistant coaches.

Fleming, the No. 3 overall prospect in the class, became the highest-rated wide receiver in Ohio State history (a title he still holds). Smith-Njigba was the No. 29 prospect overall, partnering with Fleming to become the first five-star wide receiver duo to sign with Ohio State in the same year, while Scott was 66th and Cooper was 93rd in the final composite ranking. .

So far, actual field results for this class have been mixed. Fleming’s first two years at Ohio State were plagued with injuries, Scott moved to tight end after one season and yet to play much, and Cooper was traded to Missouri after just one year.

Of course, Smith-Njigba proved to be everything he was drafted for, and then some with his record-breaking second season in which he caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards. And Fleming and Scott still have plenty of time to exploit their potential, although Scott’s positional coach is now Kevin Wilson rather than Hartline.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming

Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming became the first pair of five-star wide receivers to sign with Ohio State in the same recruiting class.

2021: Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., Jayden Ballard

Hartline hit another home run in the 2021 recruiting class, when Ohio State landed the three receivers it was chasing most aggressively in that class and continued its streak of signing top-ranked catchers. Top 100 prospects in the class. It was the second straight year that Ohio State landed the top-rated wide receiver in the class, with Egbuka being ranked No. 1 wide and No. 10 overall in the 2021 cycle.

While Ohio State’s class wasn’t quite the best wide receiver recruiting class on paper that year — Alabama signed four receivers who were all ranked in the top 75 — it already exists. evidence to suggest that the Buckeyes’ 2021 receiver class could end up being the best this year when all is said and done.

Egbuka showed flashes of star potential in his first season as Buckeye. The same goes for Harrison Jr., who notched three touchdowns in his first career start and already appears to have been underrated as No. 97 overall in his class. Ballard, who remains the only wide receiver from Ohio State to sign Hartline’s tenure, hasn’t played much as a true freshman but has garnered plenty of praise for his performance during his second spring as Buckeye.

2022: Kaleb Brown, Kyion Grayes, Caleb Burton, Kojo Antwi

The most recent recruiting class to arrive at Ohio State was the first in Hartline’s tenure that did not include a five-star wide receiver and also the first that included receivers ranked outside of the top 100 prospects in their class. But that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes’ new class of first-year receivers lack talent.

As has always been the case during Hartline’s tenure, Ohio State landed the receivers it chased the most. Brown and Grayes were both ranked among the top 88 prospects in the class, with Grayes soaring up the rankings in his senior year after his commitment to Ohio State. Burton was rated a five-star prospect upon his engagement with the Buckeyes before slipping to 132nd in the final standings, while the Buckeyes beat stiff competition from Georgia to land Antwi, the No. 151 overall prospect in the final composite rankings.

They haven’t played any snaps for Ohio State yet, and with all the talent that’s come with the two recruiting classes ahead of them, there might not be much playing time available for new students to freshman in 2022. Any one of them could turn out to be a star in time, however, and they bring a diverse group of skills that should complement each other well as they each look to make their way through the rotation in different roles.

2023: Brandon Inniss, Carnell Tate, Noah Rogers, Bryson Rodgers

As impressive as Hartline’s Ohio State recruiting classes are year after year, the class he’s now assembled for 2023 is arguably his finest work yet.

Rankings for this recruiting round won’t be finalized until they play out their senior seasons, but if Inniss (currently 18th overall), Tate (28th) and Rogers (50th) all remain among the top 50 prospects in the class, Ohio State would become only the third school to sign three of the top 50 wide receiver prospects in the same class, with Alabama in 2021 (Ja’Corey Brooks, Agiye Hall and JoJo Earle) and Texas in 2000 (BJ Johnson , Roy Williams and Sloan Thomas).

Get to know the 2023 commitments

While it’s possible that one of their recruitment rankings will drop by the end of the cycle, it’s also possible that one of them could move up the rankings, especially Bryson Rodgers, who is currently believed to be the lowest-ranked wide receiver of the Hartline era as the No. 270 overall prospect in the 2023 class. It seems likely that his eventual ranking will ultimately be higher, given that Ohio State made him a priority and accepted his engagement before landing other broads in the class.

More importantly than the final ranking, Ohio State once again landed the receivers it wanted the most, except for the highest-ranked receiver in 2023, Zachariah Branch, who signed up. from USC. With the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers in the class signed up, Ohio State is poised to re-sign the top wide receiver class in the nation. And Hartline is currently on track to be 247Sports’ scout of the year for the second time in four years.

As long as Inniss and Tate retain their five-star status, Ohio State will become the second school in the composite-ranking era to sign multiple five-star wide receivers in two different recruiting classes (along with Texas), and they accomplished that goal entirely during Hartline’s first four years as receivers coach at Ohio State.

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