Brian Hartline has a simple goal for his Ohio State receivers this spring.
To get better at playing their position on the football field, all they have to do is mimic the greatest basketball player of all time.
“I say it a lot and I’ll say it to you: Everyone makes the same shot that Michael Jordan makes. They just don’t make it as consistently. They don’t make it at crunch time,” Hartline said. “Everyone can do it. The question is how often can you do it. So challenging his consistency, how often can you do it? How dominant can you be? The ball is in the air, is it yours versus being knocked down or you’re covered.”
That was his response to a question about what is next for Chris Olave, the breakout star of Ohio State’s rout of Michigan last November.
“His level of consistency will change whether he is a good player or a great player,” Hartline said.
Olave is neither a returning starter nor a total newbie, so he fits right in with the Ohio State receivers this spring.
Three seniors headlined the group last year — Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon — and that could be the case again this year with K.J. Hill, Binjimin Victor and Austin Mack in line to replace them at slot, X (split end) and Z (flanker) receiver, respectively.
They combined for 117 catches for 1,570 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Mack went down with a foot injury after eight games, opening the door for Olave to enter the rotation as a true freshman.
Beyond that foursome, senior C.J. Saunders, juniors Jaylen Harris and Garyn Prater, sophomore Ellijah Gardiner and redshirt freshmen Jaelen Gill are looking to break into the rotation.
So too is Garrett Wilson, a five-star freshman who enrolled in January.
Overall, it’s a group Hartline feels good about despite losing redshirt freshman Kamryn Babb to a knee injury and classmate Blue Smith to transfer in the past week.
“Overall my goes are working really hard,” Hartline said. "That’s all I can ask, especially in spring. I’m really excited for them. Losing a guy like Kam is not great for us and it hurt us, but the guys that are here are working really hard and that’s all you can really ask.”
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