Ohio State already held the country’s top-ranked 2018 recruiting class, and the rich got even richer with a commitment from 4-star wide receiver Chris Olave, a San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills wide receiver who chose the Buckeyes over Pac-12 programs such as UCLA, USC and Utah. Olave’s commitment on Sunday was the most recent addition to the Buckeyes class, which now has commitments from 24 players.
Olave is regarded as the country’s No. 324 prospect overall and No. 54 wide receiver in the 247Sports composite rankings, and he’s also the No. 42 prospect in the state of California.
So what will Olave’s commitment mean for the Buckeyes? Let’s break it down.
What does Chris Olave bring to the field?
At 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, Olave is not a large or physically dominant receiver that Ohio State has pursued frequently in recent classes. The Buckeyes have often recruited players such as L’Christian Smith, Jaylen Harris, Trevon Grimes, or Binjimen Victor — big, long receivers who check in at 6-foot-4 or taller and operate as big targets for the quarterback. Olave is more akin to Ohio State receivers such as K.J. Hill or Johnnie Dixon, a mid-sized prospect who excels because of his crisp route-running, strong hands, impressive body control, and on a basic level, the ability to get open.
Olave is not necessarily a burner in terms of straight-line speed, but he does show a really intriguing short-yardage burst and an ability to accelerate very quickly. He uses that speed and burst, as well as his footwork and ability to read defensive backs, to get open deep and behind the defense. Olave generates much of his production on deeper routes, where he consistently manages to create separation from the defense and haul in the ball when it arrives.
There’s been some confusion over the fact Ohio State showed renewed interest in adding yet another wide receiver to this 2018 recruiting class, but Olave’s addition makes sense for the Buckeyes on many levels. Although H-back Jaelen Gill and traditional wide receivers such as Kamryn Babb, Cameron Brown, and L’Christian Smith are already signed and the Buckeyes return their top six wide receivers from the 2017 season, there’s still a long-term roster need for more receivers.
Rising seniors Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon, and standout walk-on C.J. Saunders will all graduate after the 2018 season. Highly-regarded freshman Trevon Grimes has left the program, transferring to Florida. Victor, Hill and Austin Mack will all be draft-eligible following the upcoming season and could leave with strong campaigns. Beyond that crew? You have two freshmen — Elijah Gardiner and Jaylen Harris. Harris has high expectations for his career, but had only 2 catches in his inaugural season. Gardiner redshirted during his first year on campus.
The depth chart has plenty of room for wide receivers to contribute in their second year on campus, and Ohio State is addressing that need by adding Olave. Although his skill set is somewhat redundant with Brown and Babb, Olave gives Ohio State another addition to a talented, deep group of wide receivers commitments in this 2018 class. The Buckeyes will count on these young wide receivers to emerge sooner rather than later.
What Chris Olave means for Ohio State recruiting
Olave is another addition to Ohio State’s elite 2018 recruiting class, the top-ranked group in the country. The Buckeyes maintain their top spot, adding to a narrow lead over the second place Georgia Bulldogs (311.23 points to to 309.02). Texas is in third place with 293.78 points and Penn State holds at No. 4 with 280.44 points.
The Buckeyes now have commitments from five wide receivers in the 2018 class, all of them ranked as 4-star prospects and top national recruits. Olave joins St. Louis natives and Christian Brothers College teammates Brown and Babb as well as Ohioans Gill and Smith. Both Gill and Smith have some positional versatility, but are ultimately most likely to contribute as wide receivers early in their career.
Of Ohio State’s 24 commitments, signees, or early enrollees, 22 are regarded as 4-star or 5-star prospects in the 247Sports composite rankings, including Olave. Twenty-two blue-chip commitments is tops in the country by a significant margin. Only Georgia (18), Texas (17), and Auburn (16) are in the same area code as Ohio State.
Olave’s commitment ends Ohio State’s pursuit of wide receivers in this 2018 recruiting class and puts the program even closer to finishing the group and filling the needs. The Buckeyes are still pursuing tackle prospects as a need, and they would take either or both Rasheed Walker and Nicholas Petit-Frere, but other positions are more fluid and the Buckeyes are seemingly taking a “best player available” approach. There is a small handful of names at linebacker, defensive end, and defensive back who could potentially join the class, with none appearing to be more likely than Ohio linebacker Christopher Oats.
From a degree-of-difficulty standpoint, it’s a strong addition for Ohio State to beat out the two Los Angeles powerhouse programs for Olave’s commitment. UCLA was the more serious threat of the two. Olave, like many other prospects of his age, grew up watching Chip Kelly’s high-powered Oregon offenses, and to beat Kelly for a prospect in his own backyard at a position of need is yet another significant recruiting win for Urban Meyer. Ryan Day’s and Zach Smith’s frequent in-home visits in California helped set the Buckeyes apart from the competition.
Check out Chris Olave’s highlights
Olave has not yet published a complete senior year highlight video, but footage from his first four games at Mission Hills are available below.