The Athletic selects an Ohio State football player as a top 35 breakout candidate

·2 min read

Every year, it seems we get one or two Ohio State football players that take their game to the next level. Some we see coming (Chase Young), others come out of seemingly nowhere and become a household name (Malik Hooker).

As we head towards the 2021 season, you can bet that there will be plenty of so-called breakout players on not only the Buckeye squad but across the entire landscape of college football. One of our favorite writers to follow is The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman and he has given his take on who he sees rising up this fall and becoming a star. In his piece, he selected one Ohio State player he sees as being one of the top 35 breakout candidates for 2021.

Can you guess who that might be?

NEXT … The Ohio State player most likely to break out in 2021

No. 7 – Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Nov 21, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) runs while defended by Indiana Hoosiers defensive back Jaylin Williams (23) during the second quarter at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

What Feldman says about Smith-Njigba

“Coaches inside the program feel like the 6-foot, 197-pound sophomore from Texas is their next one — as in, their next stud wideout in the pipeline who feels like he is only now getting really cranked up. Make no mistake, it’ll primarily be Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave’s show in 2021, but good luck to the defense that tries to cover Smith-Njigba with a safety. He’s just too smooth and slick for that. He’s also gotten a lot stronger in a year after catching 10 passes for 49 yards and one TD in 2020. He is said to be a very physical blocker and will add the grit and toughness on the perimeter that OSU had a few years ago with Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell.”

NEXT … What we say about Smith-Njigba

The skinny on Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

WATCH: Kyle McCord connects with Jaxon Smith-Njigba one-handed TD
WATCH: Kyle McCord connects with Jaxon Smith-Njigba one-handed TD

Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba runs a drill during their NCAA college football practice Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

What We Say

All the buzz surrounded the No. 1 ranked wide receiver Julian Fleming in the 2020 class, but the coaches knew what they were getting in the underappreciated, businesslike Smith-Njigba. He was a five-star prospect in his own right and came a little more polished than the other big-time receivers that came to Columbus. He has great route-running, is strong, has unbelievable body control, and is a tireless worker. Yeah, we agree he’s going to be a stud. He may not quite “break out” in 2021 because of Wilson and Olave, but he’s most definitely going to be a key cog in 2022 and beyond.

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