The recruiting stars don’t matter. Ohio State junior wide receiver Chris Olave has proved it himself.
Over the last two seasons, Olave has blossomed into not only one of the best pass-catchers in the Big Ten, but anywhere in the nation. In 2019, Olave became quarterback Justin Fields’ favorite target, as he led the Buckeyes in receiving yards (849) and touchdowns (12).
As a freshman, Olave was in the shadows of NFL-caliber receivers like Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin and Austin Mack. Olave was even buried on the depth chart behind Johnnie Dixon and Binjimen Victor. He still found a way to catch three touchdown passes.
Before coming to Columbus, Olave was classified as a 3-star composite recruit from Mission Hills High School in San Marcos, California. In the division championship game, he recorded 150 yards on 12 receptions and added a score. Despite the big game and senior season, Olave was not even rated a top-65 receiver in the country.
It turns out those rankings were a mistake.
“I don’t think the recruiting stuff matters at all, at the end of the day. Being a 5-star, 4-star, 3-star or 2-star even. At the end of the day, you are going to have to come here and work for what you want,” Olave said. “I believe that’s what I did. When I first got here, I kept my head down and didn’t say much. I listened to the older guys and leaders on the team. I just wanted to contribute in any way I can. That’s what I believe I did.”
Ahead of this season, Olave found himself on the 2020 Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List, an award given to the nation’s top receiver. The Draft Network has Olave ranked as their seventh best receiver in a talented NFL 2021 Draft Class.
The only rankings that matter now are where Olave sits ahead of this year’s draft. As for what Olave would tell himself three years ago, before he was one of the best in the nation, it is to simply shut out the outside noise and focus on the team.
“Keep working hard. Don’t really listen to the outsiders. I feel like the outsiders keep putting things in your mind that doesn’t help the team. At the end of the day, I want to help the team. Help the team win. Whatever that is, I am doing to do that.”