Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba had one of the more notable breakout seasons in all of college football in the 2021 campaign. Smith-Njigba blossomed as a reliable target for quarterback C.J. Stroud, as he led the team in both receptions (95) and receiving yards (1,606).
The stout chemistry that Stroud and Smith-Njigba displayed last season was years in the making. As Ohio State head coach Ryan Day noted during a press conference ahead of the season opener against Notre Dame, the two go way back to their high school days when they were each among the more coveted recruits.
“Think it started in high school,” Day said. “They knew each other in the recruiting circles. They were on the scout team for a while and it quickly grew to last year. They’ve just naturally had a great relationship and understand each other’s body language. They have a good connection.”
Smith-Njigba did not emerge as Stroud’s go-to option in the end zone last season, especially as the Buckeyes also rolled out a pair of future first-round draft picks in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. However, the junior wideout did haul in nine receiving touchdowns over the year, including three in the 2022 Rose Bowl Game victory over Utah.
Overall, Smith-Njigba will not be called on to put the Buckeyes’ wide receiver corps on his back considering that Marvin Harrison Jr. and Julian Fleming are also slated to receive a fair share of targets in the coming season. Their first test together in the campaign will come in Ohio State’s upcoming non-conference home showdown against the Fighting Irish on Saturday.