Reader Mail: Who Will Be Ohio State’s No. 1 WR and What Will His Numbers Be?

Urban Meyer and Ohio State Buckeyes Receivers

A week ago I used this space to answer an email about Mike Weber that I could have just as easily answered privately. Toward the end of the piece I said that if anybody has any similar questions about the Buckeyes in 2017 to go ahead and let me know. Now, obviously I didn’t want people asking me questions, so I was just trying to be polite.

You know how when you have friends or family help you move and you tell them, “If you ever move, just let me know and I’ll be there to help you.” Clearly, you have no intention of helping them move, and you certainly don’t want them actually asking you, but tradition dictates that you at least pretend to offer. That’s basically what I did last week after answering an email about the Buckeyes.

So what do I get for my good deed? More work! Wow. Great. Thanks.

And you know the worst part about this? It’s the same guy asking me another question. This is like asking somebody to help you move two weeks in a row. It’s outrageous! But here we are.

You asked so here you go…..Which WR will be #1 this year and can you compute his numbers for us as well? — Craig

And then the guy blames me for him asking a question. You’ve got some nerve, Craig.

Anyway, it’s an excellent question and one that could have a number of answers.

The easiest answer for me, however, is Parris Campbell.

In three of Urban Meyer’s first five seasons at Ohio State, the H-back has led the Buckeyes in receiving, and that’s the position that Campbell now mans. In 2012 and 2013, it was Philly Brown with 60 and 63 receptions, respectively. Then last year it was Curtis Samuel with 74 receptions.

Now, the one thing that gives me pause, however, is that the two years when the H-back didn’t lead the team in receiving, it was because that position had more than one receiver who played significant snaps.

In 2014, the H-back spot was shared by Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson — and they combined for 59 receptions, but they also spent plenty of time on the bench watching Michael Thomas, Devin Smith, and Evan Spencer do what they do.

In 2015, Marshall was moved outside and Curtis Samuel was moved to the H, and plenty was expected of him. Then over the summer, Braxton Miller decided that his quarterback days were done, and he joined the mix at H-back. He and Samuel combined for 48 receptions that year.

The reason I bring this up is because Ohio State’s two best receivers this season may be Campbell and K.J. Hill, and both of them play H. Could we see 75 receptions between the two of them, and yet somebody like Terry McLaurin or Binjimen Victor or Austin Mack or Johnnie Dixon or Trevon Grimes sneaks in and picks up 41 receptions to lead the team?

One problem with trying to project receptions in the 2017 offense is that we might have to use Indiana’s history under Kevin Wilson as much as we use Urban Meyer’s history at Ohio State.

I expect the Buckeyes to throw the ball more this year than they have in the past, but mainly because they’ll have the ball more and they’ll snap the ball quicker than they have in the past.

However, a more effective offense will also lead to more big hits, which will eliminate the need for some snaps because the offense will be more efficient with the snaps they are getting.

So yeah, there’s a lot of math here to work on, and I’m the guy who used philosophy courses in college for my math credits, so I can’t promise any projections I give you aren’t going to have some nasty remainders.

When Wilson had a decent quarterback at Indiana, the Hoosiers were always at or near the top in the Big Ten in passing yardage. Each of those years — 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 — featured three receivers with at least 40 receptions, and once or twice there were three with over 50 receptions.

Do you want to know the last time Ohio State had three receivers with at least 40 catches? No, not 2011 — that was fourteen.

The last time the Buckeyes had three receivers with at least 40 receptions was…never in school history.

They did have three players do it in 1984, but one of them was running back Keith Byars. (The other two were Cris Carter and Mike Lanese.)

Should we expect a first-in-school-history this year? I don’t think it would be a surprise if it happened, but I’m just not sure there’s enough of an established hierarchy for it to happen. In other words, I think there is going to be too much rotation for more than one or two to hit the 40-reception mark.

For me, the two guys most likely to hit that mark are Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill, and I see Campbell as being the guy who will get the ball in more ways.

So even though I went through and tried to talk myself out of it, I’m still siding with Campbell here because I expect him to be very good.

How good?

I’m thinking between four and five receptions per game, with an average similar to that of Curtis Samuel’s 11.7 yards last year. Actually, I’ll go one yard per catch better.

After crunching the numbers, I get 4.3 receptions per game — which equates to 56 receptions over 13 games. At 12.7 yards per catch, that comes out to 711 yards receiving. How many touchdowns? At least eight.

So to answer the question, Parris Campbell will be the Buckeyes’ No. 1 receiver this year with 56 receptions for 711 yards and eight touchdowns. Not a bad year.

Thanks to Craig for the question. If he has any other questions, don’t worry, he has my email.

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