There was no doubt that when the Buckeyes signed Garrett Wilson as part of the 2019 recruiting class they had just secured a very productive player for down the road. He was a 5-star prospect who routinely performed ridiculous feats on the high school football field. There was also the thought that he could be an immediate help as well.
The latter thought was realized as Wilson caught 30 passes as a true freshman in 2019, scoring five times. That included three catches for a season-high 118 yards and a touchdown on the road in a 56-27 win at Michigan.
Last year he was even better, despite not getting to face the Wolverines. Wilson posted 43 receptions for 723 yards and six touchdowns in eight games. Over the Buckeyes’ first four games last year, Wilson went for 31 receptions and 513 yards. He proved quite the formidable foe for opposing defenses.
The Ohio State passing offense won’t have quarterback Justin Fields this year, but Wilson and his fellow receivers should once again put up some impressive numbers. Those numbers won’t just happen, however, which is why Wilson is focused on being better this year and making sure he can be everything an inexperienced passer could need.
“Yeah, that’s my focus right now because despite the year that happened, last year was a great season for its own sake. Not the way we wanted, but still a great season. But you still have so much you can improve on,” Wilson said this spring. “So for me, that’s the biggest thing and that wakes me up every morning, knowing that I can still get so much better. Most people when they get successful, it’s human nature to chill out and take your foot off the pedal. But we’re taking a different approach in the Zone 6 room.”
One of those different approaches is moving Wilson from the slot position he played last year to the X position that he played as a true freshman. The move allowed the Ohio State coaches to get a good look at sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba and true freshman Emeka Egbuka in the spring. Together, those two underclassmen look like they’ll be just fine. For Wilson, he sees the move as a positive for himself, which will also mean a positive move for the Buckeyes.
“I’m gonna be at X. So it’s an outside receiver, most of time on the backside of the strength of the formation. I think it’s really good for my development,” he said. “It’s a little bit harder to get off press and stuff like that from the outside when you’re singled up. So I just think it’s really good for my development. Tie in playing slot last year and then bring it in with playing outside this year, just being able to build my skill set to be able to play both. Personally, I want to be someone that you could put anywhere on the field.”
The Buckeyes won’t hesitate to move Wilson around, but there’s only so many receivers that can be on the field at any one time. Fortunately for Wilson, he can play wherever you need him, and the NFL will see that as well.
But the move back outside will also help others get on the field in the slot. It frees up an entire position. It will also give the quarterbacks more consistent options this season. The move may not have been Wilson’s idea, but he had no issues kicking back outside if that’s what’s best for the Buckeyes this year.
“We’ve just got some dogs in the Zone 6 room, so we’ve just got to make it happen and that’s really all it is,” he said. “We feel like the quarterbacks are gonna be relying on us a lot. The Zone 6 room is super deep and we just wanted to get all the dudes out there as best as we could. It wasn’t really my idea but whenever they proposed it to me, I was cool with that 100%. I understood it.”