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Brian Hartline -- 2021 FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year

In 2021, no position group in college football was better than Ohio State's wide receivrs.

FootballScoop is proud to announce that Brian Hartline (Ohio State) is the 2021 FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year, presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.

To put it simply, the Ohio State wide receiver room was the best of its kind in college football. Take any position group on any team, and they all measure up short to the damage the Buckeye wideouts did to opposing secondaries in 2021.

Ohio State boasted an embarrassment of riches at the position -- to the almost comical point where Jameson Williams, now known as the best receiver on Alabama's team, left Ohio State because he wasn't seeing the field enough in Columbus.

That's because the Buckeyes rolled out three All-America caliber players with each series.

Senior Chris Olave was the elder statesman of the group. The leading receiver on Ohio State's Big Ten champion, CFP semifinalist team of 2019 and the Big Ten champion, CFP finalist team of 2020, Olave turned down NFL draft opportunities to chase a ring in 2021. He didn't win a national title, but he did haul in 65 balls for 936 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns. His last touchdown grab, a 43-yarder in the Buckeyes' 56-7 onslaught of No. 7 Michigan State, broke David Boston's school record with 35 scoring receptions. 

Brian Hartline

Next, there was junior Garrett Wilson. The former 5-star recruit played like it from day one, catching 30 passes as a freshman, 43 in eight games as a sophomore in 2020, and then a career-high 70 this season. He also topped the 1,000-yard mark for the first time this fall, and set a career best with 12 touchdown grabs. Fourteen players caught at least 90 passes this season; among the other 13, none topped Smith-Njigba's 16.91 yards per reception. 

And then there was Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Another former 5-star, he turned in the greatest season in Ohio State's illustrious record books -- as just a sophomore. Smith-Njigba set school records with 95 catches for 1,606 yards (nine of them for scores). He topped the 100-yard mark seven times in 13 games, and posted 99 yards versus Indiana, 97 against Penn State, and 93 against Akron. A 26-17 November win at Nebraska set a school record for grabs (15) and stood as second most for yards (240), only to be outdone by his truly epic Rose Bowl performance. There, Smith-Njigba equalled his own school record with 15 receptions, but topped his previous high by nearly 100 yards, compiling a school- and FBS-bowl record 347 yards and three touchdowns. And Ohio State needed every one of those yards, coming from behind to defeat No. 11 Utah, 48-45.

Through, essentially, one and a half seasons, Smith-Njigba sits just 96 receptions and 1,243 yards shy of Ohio State's all-time records, marks he could conceivably break in his junior season.

But that's not all. After Olave and Wilson opted out of the Rose Bowl, Ohio State simply promoted 5-stars Julian Fleming, 5-star Emeka Egbuka, and Marvin Harrison, Jr., a top-100 recruit.

Harrison caught six passes for 71 yards and three touchdowns, surpassing the freshman's entire career output to that point; Egbuka caught three passes for 46 yards while also returning a career-high seven kickoffs; and Fleming caught a career-high five passes for 35 yards. 

In all, nine Buckeye wideouts combined to catch 267 passes for 3,922 yards (nearly 15 yards per grab) and 38 touchdowns this season.

CoY-2021

A former Ohio State receiver himself, the 35-year-old Hartline played in the NFL from 2009-15. He rejoined his alma mater as a quality control coach in 2017 and was promoted to wide receivers coach the following year. 

The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Kyle Cefalo [Utah State], Josh Crawford [Western Kentucky], Steve Spurrier, Jr. [Mississippi State], Holmon Wiggins [Alabama] and Hartline) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.

Previous winners of the Wide Receivers Coach of the Year award are Bobby Kennedy (Texas, 2008), Zach Azzanni (Central Michigan, 2009), Brent Pease (Boise State, 2010), Ted Gilmore (USC, 2011), Matt Lubick (Duke, 2012), Lawrence Dawsey (Florida State, 2013), Rusty Burns/Doug Meacham (TCU, 2014), Tate Wallis (Baylor, 2015), Todd Fitch/Joe Sloan (Louisiana Tech, 2016), Kasey Dunn (Oklahoma State, 2017), Tyron Carrier (West Virginia, 2018), Jeff Scott (Clemson, 2019), and Holmon Wiggins (Alabama, 2020). 

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Three All-Big Ten wide receivers

Ohio State single-season catches, yards record-holder

Ohio State career TD receptions record-holder

FBS Bowl receiving yards record-holder


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