Chris Olave: "I Would Have Come Back... That's a Guarantee."
Ohio State fans know the talent Chris Olave brings to a vaunted Buckeye attack, which led the Big Ten in total offense by nearly 100 yards per game (530 average) last season..
Almost half of those yards were through the air, and the most successful receiver of the explosive bunch was Olave (San Marcos, Calif.). The now-junior led the receiving unit, which also featured all-time catches leader K.J. Hill and other veterans, with 849 yards and 12 touchdown catches.
But his season didn't end on the highest note. Olave candidly discussed his offseason struggles after the heartbreaking Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson, which concluded in miscommunication when Olave broke off his route thinking quarterback Justin Fields was scrambling. The mishap led to a game-clinching interception for the Tigers.
“It was tough,” Olave reflected during a recent media session. “I care so much about this team and this university. The first couple months were tough, especially during quarantine… Working out 2-3 times a week trying to take my mind off things. I’ve still got that chip on my shoulder.”
With the recent drama and initial cancellations surrounding a Big Ten football season, many speculated whether Olave would opt out and turn pro...
“Yeah, I would have come back… that’s a guarantee,” Olave said emphatically. “I couldn’t leave that as the last play (of my college career).”
“Chris has always been on the side of being a Buckeye and graduating,” added Brian Hartline, wide receivers coach. “The talk of him leaving was nowhere inside this building, more so outside. His desire to be part of something special and get his degree was never more emphasized than after that last game in Arizona.”
Now, Olave returns as the primary/sole veteran amongst a younger aerial unit that also lost journeymen Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor. Olave may not be one of Ohio State's seven team captains, but he doesn't need the formal title to help guide others.
“I am just trying to go out there, bring energy every day and lead by example,” the 2020 Biletnikoff Watch List Member said. “I’m not really a big talker. I just go out there and work hard to keep things going."
This has already been the most unusual of seasons. With an eight-game schedule, and no bye weeks, that is working through strict medical protocols and rushing to conclude one day before the College Football Playoff committee chooses four teams, contributions from many on the depth chart will be needed if the Buckeyes want to win their first national championship since 2014.
The budding receiving group, also bringing back sophomores Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams, is working hard to get talented freshmen Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr. and Mookie Cooper up to speed. Having Olave around makes that job much easier...
“His development as a person has been phenomenal,” Hartline added. “I love coaching him and love having him in the room. We are always teaching guys at different levels. I know that, if my message isn’t clear, guys like Chris can help put it in a language that I’m missing a beat on.”