Ohio State star wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba sustained an apparent lower-body injury in the first quarter of a 21-10 win over fifth-ranked Notre Dame Saturday evening. Smith-Njigba did return for a short period after being shaken up, but had his helmet taken away early in the third quarter and did not return.
Smith-Njigba caught a 4-yard pass halfway through the first quarter and was tackled awkwardly by a Notre Dame defender. He then spent time on an exercise bike and ran along the sideline trying to test out his leg. Emeka Egbuka eventually took Smith-Njigba's place in the slot and at punt returner.
Buckeyes coach coach Ryan Day told reporters that he hopes to get Smith-Njigba back some time this week, along with junior receiver Julian Fleming.
Smith-Njigba, a junior 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.
No other returning receiver on the roster posted more than 200 yards receiving last season. Egbuka had 90 yards receiving and a touchdown in the win Saturday, 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 finished with just 223 yards passing against the Fighting Irish after averaging 380.9 yards passing per game in 2021.