The No. 2 player on this list has 12 career starts over the previous two seasons, and has never had a play from scrimmage of over 24 yards. He also might be the most dangerous playmaker on the Ohio State football roster.
No. 2 — Parris Campbell, rJr H-Back
Every time I write about Parris Campbell, I am legally obligated to remind you that he has as many career tackles (13) as he does receptions. And despite playing in eight games and starting three times as a redshirt freshman in 2015, his first reception didn’t come until 2016. Because of his inauspicious debut in 2015, Campbell has carried a cloud of doubt around him since that Virginia Tech game to open the season. For those who saw him this spring, however, doubt has given way to excitement.
Campbell caught 13 passes for 121 yards (9.3 ypc) with a long of just 16 yards last season. He only caught more than two passes in a game once, and that came in a 4-catch, 36-yard outing against Rutgers. Only two other times did he even have multiple catches in a game.
At 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, Campbell is a bigger H-back than Curtis Samuel was, but he has yet to be the inside runner that Samuel could be. I don’t know if we will see that this season, but Campbell’s versatility everywhere else makes this a natural fit.
There is very little history here to project a bright future. The present, however, has been encouraging.
CAMPBELL’S CAREER RECEIVING STATS
CAMPBELL’S CAREER RUSHING STATS
CAMPBELL’S CAREER TOTAL OFFENSE STATS
What He Does Well
Campbell is a very good kick returner, earning Third-Team All-Big Ten honors last season after leading the conference with a 27.8-yard per return average. Special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs is expecting an even more productive season as a returner in 2017.
In terms of the offense, Campbell showed this spring that he can beat safeties on the corner route over and over again. Or, perhaps, he showed that he could beat Ohio State safeties over and over again.
There isn’t a lot of wasted movement from Campbell. When he gets the ball on an end around, he’s not looking to drag things out. He’s looking to get up the field and get his yards. He also has the strength to push the first tackler away, and the speed to avoid the rest if there is a bad angle.
He improved as a route runner last year. His blocking has helped spring big plays for plenty of teammates. Now, the cleat should be on the other foot, and they should be springing him for big plays in 2017.
Parris Campbell in 2017
From the first day of spring, Parris Campbell was the Buckeyes’ standout receiver. Other receivers played well and earned mention from coaches and teammates, but Campbell was always the first player mentioned. There was never any worry from anybody when it came to replacing Curtis Samuel. And for what it’s worth, they aren’t looking for Campbell to be Samuel. Instead, they will get the ball to Campbell in the best possible way for him to make plays.
There should be plenty of avenues for making this happen. Campbell has experience playing out wide and dealing with cornerbacks. He knows the ins and outs of beating press coverage, which will make him even more dangerous in that area against safeties or nickels in the slot.
Kevin Wilson has a prolific history with slot receivers, and Campbell has more potential than any he has had before. This is the year for that potential to be realized.
When this offense is humming, the H-back is one of the reasons why. With expectations for this offense approaching lunacy, there’s no reason to stay sane when it comes to projecting Parris Campbell’s numbers in 2017.
What They Are Saying
“What an explosive player. I love Parris and the way he goes to work every day. He is tough and he is reliable. He works on and off the field. You can count on him. When the ball is in his hands, he is very dynamic. He can really do stuff when the ball is in his hands. If you look at his numbers for the spring, he was very productive. We are expecting big things from him this fall.” — Ryan Day
“He’s standing out big time. He’s one of my favorite players just because he is so unselfish and he goes so hard. He deserves a great year. He’s one of our best playmakers right now.” — Urban Meyer
“Yeah, Parris is really talented. He could play all three (receiver positions), he has played all three. He definitely has some of those running back skill sets because he played it in high school. He’s a big, tough kid, a smart kid that’s electric. He can really go. He worked really hard in the offseason. He played a lot last year, but he’s performing at a more consistent level right now because of the work he put in this offseason.” — Zach Smith on Campbell being a natural fit for H-back.
“It’s just where I think he needed to be. It’s where he best suits this offense, and it’s a way for him to be involved in the run game and the pass game. Our offense has always worked best when we’ve had the hybrid guy in the slot, and so that’s who I saw moving into that position for sure.” — Zach Smith on moving Campbell to the slot.