Opinion: JSN’S Rose Bowl Performance Further Complicates the Jameson Williams Debate

Would Jameson Williams be the 4th best receiver on Ohio State’s roster? The question that has divided half the fan base needs to be addressed. Before I dive deep into this rabbit hole I want to throw a disclaimer out that I know this article will likely trigger some fans. The Jameson Williams debate has become a highly sensitive topic, but I felt as if this was a good time to finally speak on it. Next to the Joe Burrow vs. Dwayne Haskins debate this has been a truly decisive topic for Buckeye Nation. I do not expect this post to end the debate, but it should serve as an all encompassing view of both sides.

The 2021 season saw the rise of the Jameson Williams and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Both previously had be afterthoughts at Ohio State due to the performances of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Going into 2021 everyone on the planet knew Chris Olave was the alpha in the room and Garrett Wilson was the most talented wide receiver in the room. There is no denying that notion based on all the evidence we had going into the season. Olave is arguably the greatest statistical wide receiver in Ohio State history. Meanwhile Garrett Wilson has been one of the most talented from day one, has put up great numbers, and will certainly be a first round pick.  There is no way prior to 2021 that you could make the argument that Jameson Williams was better than those two.

For those unaware, the Juiceman shined despite being sparingly used, and ultimately transferred to Alabama where he has taken his game to the next level with 75 catches, 1,507 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns, and two kickoff return touchdowns. Williams still has the National Championship game to play in, but he has had a fantastic season that has propelled him into the first round of the NFL Draft. Furthermore, he arguably should have won the Biletnikoff Award.

On the other hand Jaxon Smith-Njigba had an incredible 2021 season. His Rose Bowl performance of 15 catches, 347 receiving yard, and three touchdowns will go down as legendary in college football history. As a true sophomore, Smith-Njigba finished the season with 95 catches, 1,606 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns.

Now back to the original question: “Would Jameson Williams be the 4th best receiver on Ohio State’s roster?” Initially the answered seemed no, but now based on Smith–Njigba’s latest five game stretch and the fact he will be returning in 2022 makes the question no longer a simple yes or no.

Each player is excels at different aspects of being a receiver. Olave, Wilson, Williams, and Smith-Njigba are all great players, but the offensive system could impact their on-field results. Nick Saban has molded his offense to feature Williams which is why he is having a career year. Plus they found a way to utilize him on special teams as a returner. The same can be said about Ryan Day molding his Rose Bowl game plan for Smith-Njigba as he was the focal point of the offense.

I am not saying that Olave and Wilson aren’t also great players, they are literally all-time greats, but you can make a legitimate argument that both of them may not be Ohio State’s 4th best receiver, as crazy as that sounds, if Williams remained on the roster. There are legitimately 24 different permutations of this list that can be argued. In some Olave might be the 4th best, in others JSN might be the 4th best, etc. Simply put: each one of these players is a No. 1 receiver.

So my final answer to the question: “Would Jameson Williams be the 4th best receiver on Ohio State’s roster?” would be it depends on how you value certain wide receiver attributes. If you value leadership then Olave cannot be last, if you value raw talent then Wilson cannot be last, if you value hands and chemistry then Smith-Njigba cannot be last, and if you value big play ability then Williams cannot be last.

The real question Buckeye fans need to ask is: how was Jameson Williams not utilized properly to begin with? Alabama has shown their offense can thrive and properly feed four wide receivers so why couldn’t Ohio State? I invite all those invested in this debate to comment below on this post. My goal is to settle these questions once and for all.