Head coach Ryan Day’s only quibble with the state of this position is the lack of a fourth scholarship arm on the roster. He has an entrenched starter with Heisman Trophy potential, a backup with a year under his belt and even a start to his name and a talented third stringer who can concentrate on development barring any disasters in the next nine months.
In contrast, Ohio State had no one with experience last year to serve as backup, let alone start.
Going into 2020, Day had an experienced starter in Justin Fields, but his potential backups were true freshmen.
In ‘19, Fields was considered a great talent, but he was also new to the program after transferring from Georgia and had little experience beyond high school.
Starter: TreVeyon Henderson
Backup: Miyan Williams
Future: Evan Pryor, Dallan Hayden
Henderson showed with his explosiveness last season why he was a five-star recruit, but the sophomore also has plenty of room to improve as an every-down back. Running with more patience and learning to take the short runs when they are there should make him even more dangerous.
Williams was the starter at the beginning of last season before Henderson overtook him, and the third-year sophomore from Cincinnati likely could be the No. 1 back at many programs in the country. He brings a little more heft to the position but might also be shiftier than Henderson.
Pryor showed glimpses of his big-play ability in the spring game and could be good enough the coaches create a package for him as a third-down back.
Hayden is a four-star recruit who arrives this summer.
Projected starters: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka
Wild cards: Kam Babb, Julian Fleming
Other backups: Jayden Ballard, Xavier Johnson, Sam Wiglusz
Future: Caleb Burton, Kyion Grayes, Koji Antwi, Kaleb Brown
Smith-Njigba already holds multiple Ohio State receiving records and is likely to be in the discussion as the best receiver in the country. Harrison and Egbuka are highly-regarded recruits who looked great in limited opportunities last season and should pick up where Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson left off.
Babb is a sixth-year senior with the utmost respect of his teammates, who voted him a captain last year, but he has had a terrible time staying healthy. Fleming was the No. 1 receiver recruit in the class of 2020 but also has battled injuries. They were out at the end of spring but could be difference-makers if healthy this fall.
Ballard, another four-star recruit from the class of 2021, appears to have taken big steps this spring to get onto the field while Johnson and Wiglusz are veteran walk-ons who regularly come up in discussions with coach and players about potential contributors.