LOS ANGELES — Ohio State coach Ryan Day said on Friday he does not expect star receiver Chris Olave to reverse his decision to opt-out of the Rose Bowl.
“I don’t think so,” Day said, “but certainly we would be excited if he did.”
Olave, who announced Monday that he would be skipping the New Year’s Day bowl game against Utah in order to begin preparing for the NFL draft, has continued practicing with the team in Southern California throughout the week.
None of the other three Buckeyes who opted out of the bowl game made the trip, but Olave was seen going through individual drills during portions of practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday’s practice was not open to reporters.
Coach: Olave was in practice to help teammates prepare for Rose Bowl
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said a couple of days ago that Olave was taking “very minimal” reps, and the senior’s presence at practices seemed largely due to a desire to help out teammates in their preparation rather than a sign of a potential last-minute change of heart for playing in the Rose Bowl.
“I just have so much respect for what Chris did coming back this year,” Day said. “He certainly had an opportunity to be possibly an end of the first day (draft pick), early second day pick coming out of last year. He decided to come back and really did a great job in leading and didn’t want to leave the team.
“Wanted to stick with it through the bowl and practice and be around our players and our guys. That meant a lot to him, certainly being from Southern California. So I don’t expect that to happen, but you never know.”
Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said this week that he was aware of Olave’s status and would not be “shocked” if he still played in the game.
“I don’t get shocked,” Scalley said. “Prepare for everything. He’s a very talented athlete. We recruited Chris out of high school. Unbelievable talent. The fact that he’s out there just again is a testament to he’s a football player, right? He’s out there. He’s still trying to get better. Wish him nothing but the best.”
Jaxon Smith-Njigba could play big role in Rose Bowl
Without Olave and fellow receiver Garrett Wilson, the Buckeyes’ passing game is likely to lean on slot receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who caught a team-high 80 passes for 1,259 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season.
Sophomore Julian Fleming and freshmen Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. are all expected to see larger roles in their absences.
“We’ve never done that before where you pick one receiver and throw it,” Day said. “You’re going to take what the defense gives you. Jaxon has had a very good preparation to this bowl, and I expect him to play well.”
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Could Ohio State football’s Chris Olave reverse Rose Bowl opt out?