Ohio State issues update on Jaxson Smith-Njigba's injury
Columbus, Ohio - After suffering a mild hamstring injury in the season opener 21-10 win over Notre Dame, Ohio State wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba will not return to the field on Saturday, per head coach Ryan Day.
"Having him part of our offense is a big deal," Day reflected after his opening win. "He makes such an impact. Not too many guys at the wide receiver position make everybody else on the field better. But Jaxon does."
Star quarterback CJ Stroud certainly agrees.
All-American Smith-Njigba is an essential part of the Buckeyes offense. His absence on the field "skews" their game plan and forces quarterback Stroud to "take fewer shots," the Heisman finalist revealed in a press conference following the Week 1 matchup.
While the hamstring injury doesn't appear to be serious or, the junior may end up sitting out the following week against Toledo too.
Ultimately, Day said availability decisions are made by medical personnel with input from the player.
Will Emeka Egbuka emerge as Stroud's new go-to wideout?
With Smith-Njigba out of Saturday’s game, the Buckeyes' Emeka Egbuka will play an even more important role in the passing game.
The receiver had a standout performance in his career-best game, the season opener.
Starting in place of injured teammate Julian Fleming, Egbuka hauled nine catches for 90-yards and scored his first ever touchdown for Ohio State.
"We've thrown and caught that ball 1,000 times in practice, especially a lot throughout that week," Egbuka said. "CJ put it on the outside shoulder in the perfect place where it had to be, and there was just no one there when I turned up."
While Marvin Harrison Jr. is best at X, and Julian Fleming and Jayden Ballard are better at Z, Egbuka can line up everywhere – which he proved in Week 1.
"I knew that I knew all the plays for every position on the field, every wide receiver position that is," he added.
"I knew if I went out there and I executed my plays like I do in practice and like I do in the walk-throughs, trust my hands like I do on the jugs machine every day with Marvin [Harrison Jr.] and all of them guys, then I’d be alright."
Egbuka's next test will come in Week 2 game against Arkansas State on Saturday at 12:00 PM EDT.
Cover photo: Harry How / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP