Ohio State football: 5 candidates to be the face of the Buckeyes in 2022
One thing Ohio State does not lack is star power.
Let’s be up front — the guy who is ranked third on the list that will follow would be an unquestioned No. 1 for virtually any other FBS program. Fans can wonder if the Buckeyes will regain the B1G crown or finally nab some elusive CFP success. But one thing they don’t have to wonder is whether the Buckeyes have plenty of capable and deserving stars to take on face of the program status.
Frankly, narrowing it down is tough — but here are 5 Buckeyes who may be the face of the squad in 2022:
5. Ronnie Hickman
Let’s be honest — defense has been about the only thing lacking for the Buckeyes, and there’s no question who will be at the center of any improvement OSU shows. In his first season as a starter, Hickman wasn’t just OSU’s top tackler, he led the team by 35 tackles over the next-best tackler. He had a pair of interceptions, including a pick-6. Hickman may not be the most obvious face of the OSU program, but let new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles turn around the Buckeye D and see if Hickman isn’t a familiar face everywhere in the fall.
4. Emeka Egbuka
Egbuka is here less for his productivity so far (9 catches for 191 yards) than for the flashy speed he shows and his potential role in the OSU offense. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are gone, but OSU needs a second receiver to shine beside Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Egbuka averaged 29 yards per kickoff return, and he showed game-breaking skills in the open field. He could flash onto the scene like Smith-Njigba in 2021. Don’t blink, though — dude’s fast.
3. Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Speaking of which, the expected third wheel of the OSU receiving corps instead rewrote the OSU record book last season. Sure, Olave and Wilson made plenty of plays, but Smith-Njigba’s 95 catches for 1,606 yards were the eye-popping numbers and they included plenty of big plays. Could JSN be the best receiver in OSU history? That’s really what’s at stake. Another year like 2021 would certainly put him in that conversation, and likely make him the OSU wide receiver GOAT. He’s an All-American and his consistency is already astonishing heading INTO 2022.
2. TreVeyon Henderson
Many might put Henderson third on this list. Great as his 2021 season was, Smith-Njigba was better. But Henderson is the tailback at Ohio State, which is by its nature one of the golden positions in college football — see Archie Griffin, Eddie George, etc. All Henderson did as a true freshman was rush for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns. He added 312 yards and 4 scores receiving. He’s a human highlight reel in a prestigious spot. What could be better? Well …
1. CJ Stroud
Taking over as OSU’s starting QB without a prior collegiate passing attempt, all Stroud did was throw for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns. He was a Heisman finalist, and there’s no reason to think he’ll do anything but improve in his second year as a starter. Stroud is the de facto favorite for the Heisman trophy, and if that doesn’t make you the face of your team, what on Earth would? He’s the likely face of college football in 2022.