COLUMBUS — Just one look. That’s all it took.
Garrett Wilson made a great play look effortless when he climbed high above Sevyn Banks to grab a touchdown pass from Matthew Baldwin in Ohio State’s 2019 spring football game and immediately validated every one of the five stars the recruiting analysts had given him.
His talent was obvious early. He graduated early from high school to enroll at Ohio State. And he played early, catching 30 passes for 432 yards and five touchdowns last season.
This season he has joined teammate Chris Olave as one of the elite receivers in college football. In OSU’s first three games he has caught 24 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns.
Wilson has exceeded 100 yards receiving in each of those three games. The only other receivers to do that in three consecutive games at Ohio State are David Boston, Terry Glenn and Cris Carter.
It wasn’t just the fans at the spring game who knew right away that Wilson was exceptionally talented. Ohio State coach Ryan Day knew. And the guy throwing him the ball now, Justin Fields, knew.
“My expectations for him when he got here were about what’s going on right now,” Day said earlier this week. “I always felt he was very, very talented and had a chance to be special. We kind of saw that early on.
“The first thing that stands out is his talent. He is tremendously skilled. His ball skills are excellent. His change of direction and ability to accelerate in a short area is just tremendous. The other part is just his timing downfield and going and getting balls. His ceiling is as high as he wants it to be,” he said.
When Fields was asked about Wilson after a 49-27 win over Rutgers last Saturday, he said, “He’s doing what he has always done, which is ball out. From the second he got here at Ohio State he’s been balling out. The first spring he came in he was making crazy plays. The coaches saw his potential. I know the players saw it. You all are just seeing what he does all the time.”
Wilson says he came into his college football career with no expectations or personal goals.
But he also came into this season with confidence that it would look a lot like it has in Ohio State’s first three games.
“The way the offense has gone these last two years and the way we’re opening it up in the passing game, yeah, I would say I expected this,” he said.
“Being in this offense and playing with someone like Justin, he’s always going to put it where it needs to be. It’s just on me, Chris (Olave) and Jamo (Jameson Williams) to make a play at that point. I feel like I’ve been in a lot of good situations to make plays and then it was just on me to make a play at that point.
“Being a receiver, when I see a play where I know I’ve got a deep route, I automatically open my eyes big. Any time they call a play where I know I’m going down the field I’m excited for it,” he said.
Wilson lived in suburban Columbus before his family moved to Texas when he was 12 years old, so he is familiar with the names of the other players with three consecutive 100-yards receiving games.
“Those dudes putting up those records, those are the people that I looked up to growing up,” he said. “I wasn’t able to watch much of them play just because of my age. But seeing my name along with their names, that was super special to me. Now I just got to try and keep it going and hopefully we can break some records.”