Ohio State’s star receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming set to return
Last weekend, The Ohio State Buckeyes cruised passed Arkansas State in a 45-12 win to go 2-0 in the season thus far.
Even more impressive, the Buckeyes garnered the win without their two best wide receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming.
However, Ohio State can rest assured as both junior receivers are expected to return to the field for Saturday's game against Toledo.
While their absence paved the way for breakout performances by young receivers like Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, the Buckeyes' offense will likely feel a major boost on Saturday with Smith-Njigba and Fleming back in the mix.
"He’s further along than he was at this point last week," Ohio State's head coach Ryan Day said in a press conference on Tuesday regarding Smith-Njigba's recovery and status. "We’re going to expect him to play this week."
On Fleming, Day added: "We're expecting Julian to play this week, and same thing – I think it's very similar to the Jaxon situation."
Buckeye Quarterback CJ Stroud on the return of his star receivers
As Day admitted, the Buckeyes have a "long way to go" in order to be a force to be reckoned with.
With Smith-Njigba and Fleming's absence, Ohio State's offense lost key players with championship-winning experience that they will need in order to stay competitive with the nation's best like Georgia and Alabama.
While the Bucks have excelled without the two receivers, starting quarterback CJ Stroud believes they offer skill sets that will help the Buckeyes return stronger and in playoff contention.
During Tuesday's press conference, the second-year QB named Fleming as a weapon that defensive coordinators need to plan for when scouting their team.
"Julian is very versatile, he's very dynamic," Stroud said about Fleming's play. "When he comes back, he'll definitely be used a lot.
"It will be exciting to get two dynamic playmakers back. Even if they don't come back, I know we'll be fine, but hopefully they do," Stroud added.
The No. 3 Buckeyes will host their state brethren the University of Toledo on Saturday before kicking off Big Ten play against Wisconsin the following weekend.
Cover photo: GREGORY SHAMUS / Sean M. Haffey / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP