Wyatt Davis and Chris Olave were always expected to be contributors at Ohio State, but the timetable for their careers were advanced by injuries to starters this year.
The two Californians will play significant roles in the Rose Bowl against Washington on New Year’s Day.
Davis, a redshirt freshman who was a 5-star recruit, moved into the starting lineup at right guard when two-year starter Demetrius Knox suffered season-ending foot injury near the end of OSU’s 62-39 win over Michigan.
Davis’ start in the Big Ten championship game was his first at OSU and he will get his second start in the Rose Bowl.
Olave, from Mission Hills, Calif., has caught three touchdown passes in OSU’s last two games. Two of the TD catches came against Michigan and he also blocked a punt in that game. His break came when he joined the receivers rotation after Austin Mack suffered a season-ending injury against Purdue on Oct. 23 and since then he has had 10 catches.
He said the Michgian game “changed my whole life.” “Those three big plays I made, it was unreal all the spotlight I got put in and everything. I kind of tell myself if I get an opportunity I’ve got to take advantage of it. Either you do or you don’t.”
Davis, from Belleflower, Calif., also was a doer when given an opportunity he didn’t expect.
“I felt like I was ready. I came out there and played confidently and listened to what the other guys on the offensive line said,” he said.
Asked to rate his first start against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game, he said, “I would say there are a lot of good things that I did and there are some things that I feel like I could have done better.”
Davis used his redshirt season in 2017 to improve his strength and conditioning and to learn from a first-round NFL draft choice, Billy Price.
“I was doing stuff I didn’t even know I could really do, like working through being tired and stuff like that. Luckily for me when I came in, I had Billy Price. Just seeing the type of the leader he was and the way he would work, it was almost like I was star struck in a sense.
“I was used to going up against guys in high school that were good competition but there would be some games that I would go up against guys that I was stronger than and didn’t have to rely on technique. But once you get up here technique and stuff like that really matters because it puts you in the right position.
“The biggest tip I got was being in good condition. Early on in the spring game there would be times
that I would be fatigued and it would affect my play,” he said.
Jim Naveau writes for the Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.