Long wait finally ends for Ohio State’s Babb

COLUMBUS — Kamryn Babb arrived at Ohio State as a 4-star wide receiver recruit in 2018 with all the hopes and dreams of any athlete in that situation.

But life intervened. Four ACL surgeries, starting in high school, changed the trajectory and timing of his college football career.

He appeared in seven games in 2020 but it was rehab, rehab and some more rehab which dominated his college career.

This year was supposed to be his breakout season. He was healthy, he looked good in preseason practice, but then he had another setback. In the non-specific language OSU uses to describe injuries, he “tweaked something.”

The fact that Babb did not appear on OSU’s list of players unavailable for Saturday’s 56-14 win over Indiana might have been an indicator something good could happen for him.

That moment arrived with 12:03 left in the game when he caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Stroud for Ohio State’s final touchdown of the day. It was the first catch of his college career.

Babb fell to his knees in the end zone after making that long-awaited catch. He said that was an expression of his faith, which sustained him through his long journey.

“The past five years, that’s always what’s been a dream of mine, that whenever I catch a touchdown to get on my knees and give it to Him, to Jesus Christ,” Babb said after the game.

In August, not long after suffering his “tweak,” he said, “I’ve trusted in Jesus and my God and I’ve kind of gone day by day. That’s all I can really do.”

“I’ve been through a lot worse. Envisioning that goal, the dream I’ve had that I think God has put in my heart and what I want to do for this team in that stadium is what keeps me going.”

After getting up from his knees in the end zone, Babb hugged and was hugged by more people than he could count.

“It was a lot. I wasn’t really counting. I think I hugged some people five times,” he said.

Babb’s teammates shared in the emotion in the moment of his catch.

Defensive end Jack Sawyer said, “It almost brought tears to my eyes seeing how hard he’s worked, how humble he is and how big of a man of faith he is.

“It inspires me. Seeing him out there catching his first touchdown at Ohio State means the world for all of us. We see how hard he worked and how good of a person he is. It inspires us all to be better people,” he said.

OSU coach Ryan Day said, “Where do we start with that? This is somebody who has overcome four ACL surgeries. That’s nine months recovery times four. That’s a long time to be in recovery not being able to do something you love. The last time there were a lot of questions of if he wanted to do it. He never batted an eye, he wanted to do it.

“What happened today in the stadium was magical. Hopefully there is somebody out there going through tough times who sees it as a motivation to overcome,” he said. “Something special went on today on the field.”

Stroud said, “I wanted that to happen a lot. Really bad. I was like, ‘I’d better not mess this up for my guy.’”

Babb said, “I don’t really know what words to use to describe it. If I had to say a word it would be thankfulness first and foremost to Jesus Christ and who he is to me. But I’m also thankful for my teammates and C.J.

“I had family to support me when there times when I felt like I just couldn’t go on. I wouldn’t be here without Adam Stewart and the whole training staff.”

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.

Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.