Ohio State just landed a commitment from one of the nation’s top-rated wide receivers as Chicago St. Rita four-star Kaleb Brown pledged his services to the Buckeyes during his unofficial visit on Monday evening.
The 5-foot-11 and 177-pound Brown doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of some of the receivers on the current roster – or even some of the other wideouts the Buckeyes are pursuing this cycle – but he’s an explosive player who could add a new dynamic to an already potent offense in Columbus.
In fact, Brown racked up 790 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns in just six games for the Mustangs this spring and became the first player to ever win the Chicago Catholic League’s East Suburban Catholic Conference player of the year award twice.
Given his ability to make plays in the backfield and in the slot, it’s hard not to compare Brown to former Ohio State running back/wide receiver Curtis Samuel. He’ll have to shake the narrative that H-Backs don’t exist in the Buckeyes’ offense as currently constructed, though, after players like Dontre Wilson, Jaelen Gill and Demario McCall never quite lived up to their lofty expectations coming out of high school.
That said, the key to having success at that position is simply being one of the three best wide receivers on the roster. Given his speed (10.94 second 100-meter dash), elusiveness and great hands, Brown has all of the tools to be just that.
“If I could design the perfect slot receiver in a lab, that player would look a whole lot like Kaleb Brown,” Irish Breakdown’s Bryan Driskell said. “Brown is an explosive athlete that combines all the traits you want in a wideout. He possesses an elite burst, which allows him to get to full speed within just a couple of steps, and he combines an excellent second gear with that trait.
"Brown is also a sudden athlete that makes immediate cuts, and he can then accelerate out of that break and get back to full speed. He is also a strong athlete, and he has the lower body strength you normally see in a running back.
"That's part of what makes him so dangerous with the ball in his hands. He can run through arm tackles with ease, and we've already talked about the acceleration we see after contact. Brown also has an advanced upper body, which he uses naturally as a stiff arm in space.”
It would be easy for Brown to look at the depth chart now and see a crowded with receivers room, but there figures to be a bit of turnover at the position over the next few years with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson certainly off to the NFL after this season and then Julian Fleming and Jaxon Smith-Njigba likely to have similar decisions to make after the 2022 campaign.
Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. will presumably be up next after that, but that leaves the third spot in the rotation up for grabs, and that’s where Brown could potentially find playing time as a redshirt freshman.
That said, Ohio State is actually looking to add a fourth wide receiver this cycle to a group that now includes Brown; Austin (Texas) Lake Travis five-star Caleb Burton; and Chandler, Ariz., four-star Kyion Grayes.
It’s not impossible to think that the Buckeyes could land four elite players at the position, having done so in 2020 with Fleming, Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr. and Mookie Cooper, though Scott has since moved to tight end and Cooper has transferred to Missouri.
Options for that final spot include Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei four-star C.J. Williams; Suwanee (Ga.) Lambert four-star Kojo Antwi; and Southlake (Texas) Carroll three-star Landon Samson, who hopes to land an offer from the staff during his unofficial visit later this week.
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