Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr.

A Look at Each of His Brian Hartline’s Five Loaded Wide Receiver Recruiting Classes at Ohio State

If you’ve been paying attention to the commitments Ohio State has made this week, you already know the simple truth: Brian Hartline is a good recruiter.

That fact became abundantly clear over the past three days as Ohio State landed three straight commitments from wide receivers who are ranked among the top 50 prospects in the 2023 class: Carnell Tate, Brandon Inniss and Noah Rogers.

However, it’s not like Hartline’s recruiting prowess was a secret before this week. Ohio State has brought elite recruiting classes into the wide receiver position year after year since Hartline became Ohio State’s wide receivers coach midway through the 2019 recruiting cycle. Those classes have consistently been among the best in the country, creating a talent pool that has positioned Ohio State for excellence at the wide receiver position for years to come.

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

Now that Ohio State probably finished its 2023 recruiting class at wide receiver — and did so in spectacular fashion — it’s worth taking a look at each of Hartline’s first five recruiting classes as a full-time assistant coach. and why each of them has been 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 of Brian Hartline’s tenure as Ohio State wide receivers coach included just two wide receivers, but both have already become top 12 overall picks in the NFL draft.

Hartline was still just a quality control coach when Wilson committed to Ohio State, but he helped ensure that Wilson remained committed to the Buckeyes after the departures of Zach Smith and Urban Meyer. As the No. 20 overall prospect in the class of 2019, Wilson was the highest-rated wide receiver Ohio State had signed at the time, and he became exactly the player he was expected 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 commit to Hartline in September 2018 while Hartline was Ohio State’s interim wide receivers coach, was a one-year starter for the Buckeyes in 2020 but didn’t fully realize his potential until he transferred to Alabama. where he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2021. However, Hartline was still involved in developing Williams, and his appearance as a first-round draft pick is only helping Hartline’s efforts to continue recruiting the best wide receivers for Columbus. .

The only wide receiver from the class of 2019 selected better than them in this year’s NFL draft was USC’s Drake London, whom the Buckeyes did not offer as the No. 247 overall prospect in the cycle.

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

Hartline quickly demonstrated his ability to recruit at an elite level in his first full recruiting cycle on the job by bringing in the most talent-rich wide receiver class in Ohio State history. Ohio State became the second school (after Alabama in 2017) in the composite ratings era to land four wide receivers who were ranked among the top 100 overall prospects in the same recruiting class, and 247Sports ranked Hartline as the best recruiter in the country 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 overall prospect, pairing with Fleming to become the first five-star wide receiver duo to sign with Ohio State in the same year, while Scott was ranked No. 66 and Cooper ranked No. 93. end compound.

So far, actual results in the field for this class have been mixed. Fleming’s first two years at Ohio State were plagued by injuries, Scott transitioned to tight end after one season and still hasn’t played much, and Cooper transferred to Missouri after just one year.

Of course, Smith-Njigba has proven to be everything he was drafted to be 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 tap into his potential, though Scott’s position coach is now Kevin Wilson instead of Hartline.

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

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

Hartline hit another home run in the 2021 draft class, when Ohio State landed the three receivers it most aggressively pursued in that class and continued its streak of only signing receivers who were ranked among the top 100 prospects in the class. He marked the second straight year that Ohio State earned the highest-rated wide receiver in the class, as Egbuka was ranked the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 10 overall prospect in the 2021 cycle.

While Ohio State’s class wasn’t the best wide receiver recruiting class on paper that year (Alabama signed four receivers who were ranked in the top 75), there’s already evidence to suggest the Buckeyes’ 2021 wide receiver class could end up being the best of that year when everything is said and done.

Egbuka showed flashes of star potential in his first season as Buckeye. So did Harrison Jr., who caught three touchdowns in his first career start and already appears to have been underrated as the No. 97 overall prospect in his class. Ballard, who remains the only wide receiver in the state Ohio State has signed in Hartline’s tenure, didn’t play much like a true freshman, but he earned plenty of praise for his performance in his second spring as a Buckeye.

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

The most recent recruiting class to come to Ohio State was the first in Hartline’s tenure not to include a five-star wide receiver and also the first to include receivers ranked outside the top 100 overall 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 got the trustees it was most after. Brown and Grayes were ranked among the top 88 overall prospects in the class, with Grayes moving up the rankings during his senior year following his commitment to Ohio State. Burton was rated a five-star prospect at the time of his commitment to the Buckeyes before falling to 132nd in the final standings, while the Buckeyes beat strong competition from Georgia to land No. 151 in the final composite. rankings

They haven’t played any snaps yet for Ohio State, and with all the talent that came with the two recruiting classes in front of them, there may not be much playing time available for incoming freshmen in 2022. Either of them However, he could become a star over time, and they bring a diverse pool of skill sets that should complement each other well as they each look to work their way up the rotation in different roles.

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

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

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

Learn about the 2023 commitments

While it’s possible some of their draft ranks could drop late in the cycle, it’s also possible some of them could move up the rankings, particularly Bryson Rodgers, who would currently be the lowest-ranked wide receiver of the Hartline era. as the No. 270 overall prospect in the 2023 class. His final ranking seems likely to be higher, though, considering Ohio State made him a priority and accepted his commitment before landing other wide receivers in the class.

More important than the final rankings, Ohio State has once again landed the receivers it wanted most, with the exception of the highest-ranked receiver in 2023, Zachariah Branch, who has committed to USC. However, with the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers in the class committed, Ohio State is poised to once again sign the best wide receiver class in the country. And Hartline is currently on track to be 247Sports’ top recruiter of the year for the second time in four years.

As long as Inniss and Tate maintain their five-star status, Ohio State will become the second school in the composite rankings era to sign multiple five-star wide receivers in two different recruiting classes (along with Texas), and they’ve done it. goal entirely within Hartline’s first four years as Ohio State receiving coach.

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