Jaxon Smith-Njigba ready for role as top receiver for Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jaxon Smith-Njigba was one of the Ohio State receivers who weren’t getting a lot of attention at this time last year. All the national buzz was about NFL prospects Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.

Smith-Njigba, the starting slot receiver for the Buckeyes as a sophomore last year, eventually stepped out of the shadow of the more established receivers to pace the Buckeyes with 95 catches and 1,606 yards.

With Olave and Wilson sitting out the Rose Bowl and looking ahead to the NFL draft, Smith-Njigba became the game’s offensive MVP, catching 15 passes for a postseason-record 347 receiving yards and three touchdowns in Ohio State’s 48-45 shootout win over Utah.

Smith-Njigba entered spring practice 2022 as the undisputed No. 1 wideout, the guy who will be getting the preseason attention this time.

The annual Scarlet and Gray game will be less about him and more about Ohio State’s other receivers auditioning to be his costars in the Buckeyes’ high-flying offense.

Young receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. – who caught three touchdown passes of his own in the Rose Bowl – Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and freshman Kyion Grayes will get a chance to make their cases Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

“It’s just a new wave now, a group of receivers, of course, and I’m excited,” Smith-Njigba said. “It’s just next man up, honestly.”

Coach Ryan Day said Smith-Njigba will be lining up all over the field in 2022, so other receivers will have to be versatile, too.

“We’re going to have to move Jaxon around,” Day said. “That’s just how it’s going to have to go. Even last year in the bowl game he played outside a little bit, caught the big touchdown pass in a two tight end set. He’s a quick learner.

“The more versatile those guys are and we can move them around, the better we’re going to be, so I…


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