Ohio State’s Emeka Egbuka deserves more discussion as one the country’s best wide receivers

When Ohio State finished the team’s second spring practice of 2023, the wide receiver group was made available to the local media. Brian Hartline spoke for more than 20 minutes but none of the questions asked of the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach had to do with Emeka Egbuka.

Some of this certainly had to do with the fact that the junior wideout had already been ruled out for spring while recovering from an operation and therefore wasn’t as relevant as other topics at that time of the year. But the lack of conversation surrounding Egbuka was indicative of how things have gone for the receiver since he emerged as a starter last season.

Despite being the top-ranked receiver in his recruiting class and a top-10 prospect in the country, Egbuka played the sixth-most snaps while in a loaded wideout room as a freshman in 2021. While it was always expected Egbuka would have a larger role as a sophomore, the injury to star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba opened the slot position for him to step into and his health took up much of the discussion throughout the year.

The main reason Egbuka didn’t become a household name in 2022, however, was the play of Marvin Harrison Jr. While he is the son of a Pro Football Hall of Famer, Harrison ranked 20 spots below Egbuka at receiver in their shared recruiting class. Ohio State was excited about both players but it was Harrison who emerged as the star of the offense, alongside quarterback C.J. Stroud, in 2022.

Follow Patrick Murphy on Twitter and Instagram for more Ohio State coverage

What’s next for the Buckeyes? Make sure you’re in the loop — take five seconds to sign up for our FREE Buckeyes newsletter now!

Harrison led the Buckeyes in receptions (77), receiving yards (1,263) and receiving touchdowns (14). He became one of the most feared pass catchers in college football, finishing in the top 20 in the country in all three categories and top 10 in yards and touchdowns and is fourth in Scarlet and Gray history for receptions and yards in a single season and is tied for second in touchdown catches.

Egbuka, however, was not far off Harrison. He caught 74 passes for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns, making him a top-20 receiver nationally last season. Yet these facts were not often discussed.

While Harrison eclipsed Egbuka in 100-yard receiving games, seven to six, Egbuka went over the 80-yard receiving mark nine times to Harrison’s seven. Egbuka finished the year with nine games in which he caught a touchdown, one more than Harrison, he just had only one multi-touchdown performance to Harrison’s four.

The sophomore’s numbers were historic when it comes to an Ohio State receiver in a single season, he just happened to do it in a year when Harrison was the Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year, a unanimous All-American and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Egbuka, in his own right, was an All-Big Ten performer.

Harrison may have made more eye-catching receptions last year that helped him garner more attention, but Egbuka played a portion of the season with an injured shoulder, the reason he was not available for spring practice. Had he stayed fully healthy – or as fully healthy as wide receivers can remain throughout the course of the year – and it’s possible Egbuka is the one with the better statistical performances.

There is no doubt who the top wide receiver on the Ohio State roster and in college football is heading into the 2023 season, but Egbuka is certainly in that conversation after one year as a starter. ESPN recently ranked the top-10 receivers prior to the season and Harrison and Egbuka were No. 1 and 2 respectively, and it’s probably closer than most people think.

What’s next for the Buckeyes? Make sure you’re in the loop — take five seconds to sign up for our FREE Buckeyes newsletter now!

Want the latest scoops and news on the Buckeyes? Try our 7-DAY FREE TRIAL AND BECOME A BUCKNUTS SUBSCRIBER!

Not a bad problem to have if you’re the Buckeyes.

With a new starting quarterback this fall, it will be nice for Kyle McCord or Devin Brown, whoever wins the job, to have both Harrison and Egbuka as targets. With Egbuka out this spring, Harrison spent more time working as a slot receiver, something that could allow Egbuka to move to the outside more frequently in 2023. Harrison is also likely to see even more attention in his second year as a starter, which should help Egbuka improve his numbers further from his sophomore season.

However it plays out, the Scarlet and Gray certainly have two of the best receivers in the sport. And no one should be surprised if, by the end of next season, Egbuka is being talked about much more than he has been this offseason.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top