Kamryn Babb was a four-star recruit coming out of Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, Missouri, and the 13th-ranked wide receiver in the 2018 recruiting class according to Rivals. He had offers from a number of big-time programs, including Alabama, UCLA, and Florida, but he chose to play his college football at Ohio State.
When he enrolled to play for the Buckeyes, the future seemed bright.
But college football does not always pan out the way one might hope. Despite the promise he showed on the high school gridiron, Babb’s collegiate career was derailed by numerous knee injuries. Babb missed both the 2018 and the 2019 seasons with a two separate ACL injuries in each knee, but was able to play in seven of Ohio State’s games during the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
Babb was on track to play in 2021, but another ACL injury cost him that season. Even though Babb missed that entire season, he was voted a team captain by his teammates.
He has gone through four knee surgeries since his senior year of high school.
As this season began, Babb endured yet another setback with his knee, but back in August head coach Ryan Day seemed optimistic that he would see the field sometime during 2022:
“He had a setback, but not a setback that is going to cost the whole year. He’s out for a little while, but we’re hoping to get him back in a couple of weeks,” Day said back in August. “His situation is very unique because of his background and his history. We’re just going to trust the doctors on it and see where that goes.”
Today, against Indiana, was that day.
Babb was cleared to return to the field this week, and suited up with his teammates for today’s game against the Hoosiers. With the Buckeyes in control in the second half, Babb took the field with the offense, and quarterback C.J. Stroud looked his way:
His first collegiate catch went for a touchdown.
You can tell from the reaction just how much this meant to Babb, and the entire Ohio State sideline. Babb was given a moment to celebrate the touchdown, before Stroud and the rest of the Buckeyes offense mobbed him in the end zone.
Babb was mobbed again when he returned to the sideline:
After the game, Day talked about what Babb has meant to the program, and what he had gone through to reach this moment:
Day was not alone in praising Babb. Stroud also talked about the receiver, and how Babb has been behind the entire Ohio State team over the years:
During the interview Babb also shared what Stroud has meant to him: “[Stroud] has been there and kinda held me up when I feel like I couldn’t go on,” Babb said. “He’s a great football player – love him as a football player, but I love him as just a brother.”
The fifth-year season might not have achieved the success on the field that he envisioned when he signed to play at Ohio State due to the knee injuries, but Babb’s leadership, and success off the field, certainly stands out. In addition to being voted a team captain, Babb was awarded the honor of wearing the ‘Block O’ jersey this season, in honor of former player Bill Willis:
When that was announced, Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline talked about Babb’s leadership within the program:
He’s a guy that rubs off on others. What do they say, surround yourself with people you want to become, right? So those that are maybe on the fence from a faith perspective or a positivity perspective or a guidance perspective, Kam’s there to kind of push you over the edge.
Being around guys like that with great energy, it’s really hard to bring bad energy. It would take more effort to fight the type of energy he brings than it would just to go along with it. Kam does a great job rubbing off on guys and really making our room a better room because of who he is. He would be a guy that, when you look back, probably has made more of an impact on others than maybe anybody else around this team. He’s a very special young man.
It might have been the first catch of his collegiate career, but it was a moment that Babb, and the entire Ohio State community, will never forget.