Jaxon Smith-Njigba won't be taking the field for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff. Smith-Njigba, who has been battling a hamstring injury for much of the season, announced his intention to enter the NFL Draft on Monday, as reported by Pete Thamel of ESPN.
“I want to be out there competing with my brothers more than anything,” Smith-Njigba told ESPN on Monday. “The decision to turn pro was made after I was unable to come back on multiple occasions during the season and the doctors determined I would be unable to participate in the playoffs.”
Jaxon Smith-Njigba told Thamel that he decided to focus on his health and the NFL Draft after multiple attempts to return proved to be futile.
The Ohio State football wideout initially suffered the hamstring injury in the team's opening game of the season against Notre Dame.
He would eventually return to the lineup, but the injury lingered for the entire season, limiting Jaxon Smith-Njigba to just three games played.
It's a big blow to Ohio State, who will be taking on Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Still, with Marvin Harrison Jr. already looking like one of the best wideouts in the nation, the Buckeyes' offense- which has managed Smith-Njigba's absence well- should continue to be effective.
As for the NFL Draft, Smith-Njigba figures to have a robust market for his services. It's a testament to just how strong of a 2021 season he had, when he tallied a team-high 1,606 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Despite the injury, it's likely that Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be a first-round pick.