There are so many unknowns in the Ohio State offense, especially when it comes to the receiving unit. It is an unproven group, and yet it is about to be extremely involved in a Buckeye offense that will move to a more up-tempo pace under Kevin Wilson.
There was a lot of talk last year about the lack of production from Ohio State’s offense, specifically a lack of excitement from the receivers. Now, the Buckeyes have an emphasis on being “all gold everything” and bringing swagger back to the offense and Zone 6.
The group looks vastly different now, as Noah Brown, Dontre Wilson, and Curtis Samuel all left after last year to enter the NFL Draft. Ohio State added three wideouts in the 2017 class to bolster a unit looking for reinforcements.
The most-experienced returning players we saw making plays on the field last season include Terry McLaurin, who had 11 receptions for 114 yards; Parris Campbell, who tallied 13 receptions for 121 yards; and K.J. Hill, who finished the season with 18 catches for 262 yards.
Last year, the unit did not have the production that head coach Urban Meyer wanted. They are going to have to get better this season in order for the entire offense to reach its full potential. Members of Zone 6 have confidence that this year will be different.
“The mentality, the attitude, I feel like that’s back,” said McLaurin. “That starts with Coach Meyer, Coach Wilson, Coach Day, Coach Smith, and down to me and Parris and Johnnie as leaders. I feel like that attitude is back. Every ball that’s in the air, we want it and we gotta have it. I just feel like that swagger, that attitude, that flavor is back.”
The Buckeye pass catchers believe they can improve and have made steps to do so, but there are a number of players that still have much to prove to Buckeye Nation heading into the 2017 season.
One player who is expected to make a huge impact is senior receiver Johnnie Dixon, who only had six receptions for 26 yards last season, but has made tremendous strides this spring and summer.
At the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, Meyer didn’t bother hiding his excitement.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this this early, Johnnie Dixon is off the charts right now,” he said. “He’s moved into the Gold category as far as work ethic and practice. He’s a very talented guy.”
Dixon is one of the leaders of the receiving unit and has been making strides in the right direction, but many of the players we will see on the field this year for Zone 6 have not show much to this point.
“Receiver, there’s not a whole lot of depth there of experienced talent,” Meyer said.
Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor all received little playing time last year, but this year they have a chance to step up and produce for the Buckeyes. Ohio State newcomers Trevon Grimes, Jaylen Harris, and Ellijah Gardiner also have an opportunity to earn some playing time if the production of the older players doesn’t improve.
Despite the low numbers of experienced players in Zone 6, Meyer also believes there is something to be excited about.
“It’s one of the best groups we’ve ever had culturally,” he said. “They believe in four to six, A to B, plus-two mentality that we have here and there are zero issues. They are unproven, but those kind of players usually turn out to have very good careers.”