Ohio State defensive back Jordan Hancock (7) celebrates after his interception against Minnesota with teammate Denzel Burke (10) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Emeka Egbuka is running it back.

The junior receiver has announced his intention to return to Ohio State for the 2024 season. Egbuka has generated a lot of draft buzz heading into the 2023 season, with some analysts projecting him as a first-round choice.

In 2022, Egubka emerged as a breakout standout for the Buckeyes offense, replacing Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the slot. He caught 74 catches for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns, helping the Buckeyes reach the College Football Playoff semifinals.

OSU had faith that Marvin Harrison Jr. and Egubka will break records in 2023 on their way back to the Big Ten championship. Egbuka’s production, however, dropped after he sustained an ankle injury that necessitated surgery in early October. He missed three games before returning in November to finish the regular season.

Egbuka ended the season with 41 receptions for 515 yards and four touchdowns. His two greatest games were against Notre Dame and Michigan, where he had a combined 10 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.

After playing Robin to Harrison the last two seasons, Egbuka is anticipated to become Ohio State’s primary target in 2024, provided Harrison enters the NFL draft. He will now be Penn State’s most seasoned pass catcher, alongside Julian Fleming.

Emeka Egbuka

Egbuka’s return will provide steadiness in the slot for new quarterback Will Howard, who joined the Buckeyes from Kansas State earlier this month. He leads a highly inexperienced wide receiver room that includes rising stars Carnell Tate, Brandon Inniss, and incoming five-star freshman Jeremiah Smith.

The Buckeyes, who ended 11-2 in 2023, are now in win-now mentality under Ryan Day. After losing three games in a row to Michigan, the pressure is on Ohio State’s coach to win a conference title next season or risk losing his job.

Even in a 12-team playoff scenario that may help programs like Ohio State, winning Michigan has become a must for the coach in Columbus. The Buckeyes last defeated the Wolverines in 2019 thanks to Justin Fields’ arm and the consistency of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson as receivers.

With Egbuka’s return and the likely return of running back TreVeyon Henderson, the offense should be ready for another run through the Big Ten. Ohio State also just added Ole Miss star and two-time 1,000-yard runner Quinshon Judkins through the gate.

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