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The Nation's Best Player is Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

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College football is full of dynamic players who elevate their teammates and contribute to a team's success more than others. Because we as sports fans love to argue and torture ourselves, we have to name one player the guy above the rest. After all, there is hardware out there annually given, including the Maxwell and Heisman trophies to the nation's "top player." Last season Alabama QB Bryce Young was declared king, having won the coveted awards. The Tide has another player in edge defender Will Anderson who is in this discussion; however, I am not choosing Young, Anderson, for a wide receiver. That's right, and I am taking Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba before any other player in the country. Am I a little crazy? Maybe, I get that the most critical position on the field is the quarterback and the Buckeyes have a really one themselves, but no player can impact the game the way Jaxon Smith-Njigba can. Oh, and I plan to prove it!

Production

Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a whopping 1,606 yards receiving in 2021, the most among Power Five WRs. He added nine touchdowns as well, good for 14th in the country but only third on his team behind Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. This makes his feat of over 1,600 yards receiving even more incredible. Having to share targets with other WRs of that magnitude and still leading the Power Five in receiving yards is incredible. Jaxon was the go-to guy for the Buckeyes on money downs. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith-Njigba was a top-three rated WR in 2021 against man and zone coverage. How about that Rose Bowl game when Olave and Wilson opted out? 15 catches, 347 yards, and three touchdowns. The 15 grabs were good for an Ohio State program record; the 347 yards is the record for any FBS bowl game.

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Skills and Abilities

Jaxon Smith-Njigba has virtually no weaknesses in his game. Smith-Njigba is one of the best route runners in the country and has explosive feet, which allow him to change direction on a dime, and his start-stop ability breaks ankles. Excellent at creating separation and shows elite ball skills and body balance that allows him to make contested catches in traffic. Typically makes difficult grabs look effortless.  He is a small-bodied WR; defenders cannot jam him. He has violent feet, which make him tough to cover. Jaxon runs excellent stems and can fake defensive backs out often with his ability in the run blocking game. He engages, puts in the total effort, and uses tremendous leverage. The reality is he doesn't have any apparent holes in his game. 

He is at his best when he is needed most.

Some players simply have "it". Jaxon Smith-Njigba is one of those players. Many of his catches move the chains for Ohio State on third down. In addition, he has come through in the clutch with big-time catches in big situations, like when the Buckeyes trailed went to Nebraska, Smith-Njigba had 240 yards in that game to go along with 15 receptions. Ohio State needed every catch and every inch in order to secure the hard-fought road victory. The Rose Bowl game as mentioned above is another example. Ohio State was down for much of the contest to Utah but Smith-Njigba put the Buckeyes on his back and led them to the promised land. Even Olave and Wilson place Smith-Njigba above themselves opening.