Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba left the game against No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday after suffering an apparent lower-body injury in the first quarter. Smith-Njigba did return for a short period after being shaken up but had his helmet taken away early in the third quarter and has been ruled out for the game.
Smith-Njigba caught a 4-yard pass halfway through the first quarter and was tackled awkwardly by a Notre Dame defender. Since the play, he has spent time on an exercise bike and running on the sideline trying to test out his leg. Fellow wide receiver Emeka Egbuka has taken his place in the slot and at punt returner.
The junior receiver from Rockwall, Texas, ranks as perhaps the top returning receiver in the country after setting an Ohio State record with 1,606 yards receiving, along with 95 catches and nine touchdowns in a breakout season. He was unanimously selected to the CBS Sports Preseason All-America team and is mocked No. 6 to the Chicago Bears in Ryan Wilson’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft.
With Smith-Njigba out, no other returning receiver on the roster posted more than 200 yards receiving last season. Egbuka has 74 yards receiving and a touchdown, while Marvin Harrison Jr. had three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl. Running back TreVeyon Henderson posted 312 yards receiving and four scores in 2021, but the offense is sputtering against Notre Dame.