Ohio State not only broke a streak dating back to 2007 of no first-round wide receivers, but saw two – Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave – go in the first round, back-to-back with the No. 10 and 11 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Wilson went to the New York Jets with the No. 10 selection, and Olave went to the New Orleans Saints with the following pick. For good measure, former Ohio State and Alabama receiver Jameson Williams went with the No. 12 pick to the Detroit Lions.
“To watch them go back-to-back like that was great,” head coach Ryan Day said Friday. “A lot of emotion and a lot of emotion to the family. It’s just great to be a part of that.”
Wide receivers coach Brian Hartline, who may not have recruited them as prospects but did coach them up during their time at Ohio State, was present in Las Vegas to help guide them into the next stage of their playing careers.
“It was incredible,” Hartline said. “I mean, to be around right there, and then to have my wife there with us too. She invests so much time with the guys and she really brings them in like family. We already feel a certain type of way as a coach and the emotional conversations we’ve had and there’s just so much that comes back, but to see guys accomplish their dream in that fashion was definitely something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. It was pretty cool.”
The draft – as well as the success of current Buckeyes in the NFL, including Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Michael Thomas – sent a clear message about Ohio State’s recruitment and development of top wide receivers. Though Hartline does not like to talk about the oft-mentioned ‘wide receiver university’ distinction, Day said that is an “exciting time to be a quarterback and a wide receiver (at Ohio State).”
“Dwayne (Haskins) really kind of broke the mold when he became the first rounder at quarterback in a long time here,” he said. “Then Justin (Fields), now you’re starting to see some of the wide receivers, certainly with what Terry’s doing and Michael Thomas is doing and Parris, our guys are having success in the NFL.
“You’re seeing that carry over and you’re seeing some of the recruiting start to reflect that as well, and now you’re seeing a couple of guys go in the first round. It’s starting to pick up a lot of momentum, so it’s very exciting in recruiting to be in that area.”
At the end of the day, Hartline said the staff prides itself on knowing the path and knowing what it takes to develop a college player into someone prepared to play in the NFL, and the recent draft was evidence that will be used on the recruiting trail.
“And if we tell you you can be one of those guys, you can be one of those guys,” he said. “It’s just a proven course. It’s not like we don’t know what it takes. It’s a common goal, and it’s a common path that many guys have taken with us.”