Father and brother of Jaxon Smith-Njigba speak out after Todd McShay questions injury

After Jaxon Smith-Njigba's injury status came into question after announcing that he would not be available to return for Ohio State football in the College Football Playoff, Maada Smith-Njigba, Jaxon's father, and Canaan Smith-Njigba, his brother, are speaking out.

On ESPN's College Football Live, draft analyst Todd McShay reported that’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba is healthy enough to play in the College Football Playoff against Georgia Dec. 31, but is sitting out to protect himself ahead of the 2023 NFL draft.

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"(I'd) love to see him play, and NFL scouts would love to see him play," McShay said. "There are a lot of reports from NFL scouts I've talked to that have said, 'He's healthy enough to play and he's protecting himself for the draft.'

"I've got news for every prospect out there: NFL teams know. They know what you had for lunch last Thursday. They are going to know if you are healthy or not. And if you are healthy enough to play, you need to be out there with your teammates and play.

"I'm not saying it's going to hurt his draft stock... but the difference is with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, he is like a late first, early second rounder. He's a great college player, great slot receiver. But he has some drops, doesn't have exceptional size, doesn't have exceptional speed. There were some things coming into the year, after the great season he had, scouts were pointing to that said 'I don't think he's a lock to go top-15, top-20.' Now the fact that he's not playing certainly isn't going to help those odds."

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Maada Smith-Njigba: Jaxon Smith-Njigba has 'limitations' during rehab

Maada Smith-Njigba said on Twitter Wednesday that Jaxon Smith-Njigba just completed his first day of rehab as he works his way back from a hamstring injury that limited him to three appearances for the Buckeyes in 2022.

"Being (with) my son yesterday for his first day of rehab and seeing his limitations for myself gave me peace (with) our families (sic) choice to get my son healthy," he tweeted. "Encouraging him (to) play would be selfish and abusive. I'm at peace (because) I know he's in the right hands (for) recovery."

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Canaan Smith-Njigba, who plays in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization called McShay out, saying it was "so wrong" to make these "false claims."

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Battling a hamstring injury throughout his junior season, Jaxon Smith-Njigba appeared in only three games against Notre Dame, Toledo and Iowa, recording five catches for 43 receiving yards.

In his letter announcing he would declare for the 2023 NFL draft, Smith-Njigba said he tried as hard as he could to return in 2022.

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"I did everything possible to put myself in a position to get back on the field multiple times this year," he wrote. "I wanted it as much, if not more than anyone else."

In a statement Monday, Ohio State coach Ryan Day thanked Jaxon Smith-Njigba for his work in the Ohio State football program.

“He has had such a major impact here in Columbus, on and off the field, in a relatively short period of time," Day said in a statement. "We all know he has a very bright future ahead of him and we all support him as he moves forward with his career.”

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Jaxon Smith-Njigba injury questioned by ESPN's Todd McShay