Ryan Day hoping, not expecting return from Ohio State football receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Thursday he remains hopeful for star slot receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba to return from a hamstring injury later this season.

But Day didn’t go as far to say that he expects Smith-Njigba to become available for the Buckeyes.

“I wouldn’t say expecting,” Day said. “I’d probably say more hoping. But no update at this point.”

Since he first hurt his hamstring in the season opener against Notre Dame, Smith-Njigba has appeared in only two more games.

Following his second return from injury against Iowa on Oct. 22, he has been sidelined for three consecutive weeks with issues persisting.

Ohio State receivers Emeka Egbuka (2), Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) and Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) kneel between practice drills.

His father told The Dispatch earlier this month that the best-case scenario for Smith-Njigba’s return was for the final game of the regular season against archrival Michigan. The Buckeyes’ penultimate game of the regular season is at Maryland on Saturday.

Two weeks ago, Day had said he “absolutely” was hopeful Smith-Njigba would be back at some point.

Playing limited snaps in three games, a year after he set the Big Ten’s single-season receiving yards record as a sophomore, Smith-Njigba has caught five passes for 43 yards.

When asked earlier this week how Smith-Njigba might impact the offense with his return, Day said, "It’s hard to say now that we’ve played 10 games and not really had him available."

"But Jaxon is one of the best receivers in the country and one of the best slot receivers I’ve ever been around," he added, "so he’s been missed."

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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