On the 14th of February 2002, Jaxon Smith-Njigba was born. Today, he plays wide receiver for the Ohio State Buckeyes. The 2022 Rose Bowl was his record-setting game for Ohio State when he caught 15 passes for 347 yards.
Third-year receiver and expected starter Julian Fleming was a game-time decision and did not play for Ohio State versus the Irish, leaving the Buckeyes short at wideout. Head coach Ryan Day remarked after the game, “We expect to get them back next week.” This referred to players Smith-Njigba and Fleming. However, that’s not a given.
A “low-grade hamstring injury,” as described by 247Sports’ Chris Hummer, will sideline Smith-Njigba for “a game or two,” but he “should be ready to go in a couple of weeks.” Before opening Big Ten action against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes will take on Arkansas State and Toledo in their next two games.
All-American wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba has exited against No. 5 Notre Dame.https://t.co/IxwnCDdC22
— Shehan Jeyarajah (@ShehanJeyarajah) September 4, 2022
After taking a strong hit from Notre Dame safety Brandon Joseph on the sideline at the 7:01 mark of the first quarter, Smith-Njigba was forced to leave the game with an apparent leg injury. Before Joseph’s heavy hit on first down forced the Texas native out of bounds, he gained four yards on a screen pass.
Smith-Njigba took a hit that looked like it was to the head, but ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe revealed during the broadcast that the impact was actually to Smith-left Njigba’s leg. He missed two complete drives for the Buckeyes while warming up in the medical tent, riding an exercise bike with a trainer, and jogging on the sideline.
Ohio State had two possessions left in the first half, and Smith-Njigba came back on the Buckeyes’ third. The record-setting receiver still showed signs of pain from his injuries as Ohio State trailed Notre Dame 10-7 at halftime. Rowe noted that he appeared extremely agitated as he played briefly in the third quarter before exiting the game permanently.
A closer look at Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s leg injury last night. pic.twitter.com/JgUSxGODWb
— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) September 4, 2022
With Smith-Njigba and Fleming out of the lineup, Xavier Johnson and Jayden Ballard, who had a grand total of one collegiate reception between them to start the season, saw an increase in playing time at Brian Hartline’s position. The Buckeyes were led offensively by Emeka Egbuka, who had nine receptions for 90 yards and a score, and by Marvin Harrison Jr., who had five grabs for 56 yards.
Smith-Njigba went to high school in the city she was raised in, Rockwall. Smith-97 Njigba’s receptions for 1,828 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior put him at the top of the high school football scoring charts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He won the Landry Award and the Texas Gatorade Football Player of the Year honors after accumulating 2,094 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior.
Smith-Njigba was a high school All-American and a participant in the 2019 All-American Bowl. He received this honor from Sports Illustrated and USA Today. In his senior season of high school, Smith-Njigba racked up 82 receiving touchdowns and 5,346 receiving yards.
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