Ohio State’s Smith-Njigba to skip CFP game, will enter draft

Ohio State celebrates after an NCAA college football game against Maryland, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in College Park, Md. Ohio State won 43-30. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba will not play in the College Football Playoff semifinal game against top-ranked Georgia while he continues to rehabilitate a leg injury and prepare for the 2023 NFL draft.

The AP Preseason All-American was hurt in the Buckeyes’ opener against Notre Dame and played in just two other games. Details on the seriousness of his injury weren’t disclosed through the season.

The announcement was made by the football program on Monday.

“I want to thank Jaxon for all he has done for our Ohio State program,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “He has had such a major impact here in Columbus, on and off the field, in a relatively short period of time. We all know he has a very bright future ahead of him and we all support him as he moves forward with his career.”

The Buckeyes play Georgia in a CPF semifinal in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31. Receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. (1,157 yards, 12 TDs) and Emeka Egbuka (1,039 yards, nine touchdowns) assumed larger roles in the passing game with Smith-Njigba sidelined.

The junior from Rockwall, Texas, set school records in 2021 for receptions (95) and receiving yards (1,606). His yardage total broke a 20-year-old Big Ten Conference record.

Smith-Njigba set an all-time bowl game record with 347 receiving yards in the 2022 Rose Bowl win over Utah. He also broke the Rose Bowl record with 15 receptions and tied the game record with three touchdowns.

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25