Football Hayes & Cannon

Ohio State Spring Football Overview — Wide Receivers

Parris Campbell Ohio State Football Buckeyes


“If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it’s the best possible substitute for it.” – James Garfield

The 20th President of the United States, James Garfield hailed from Moreland Hills, Ohio, a small village in the Cleveland area. While Garfield only served as President for about 200 days before being assassinated by Charles Guiteau, his historical significance is that he is the only President to be elevated to the office while being a sitting member of The House Of Representatives.

No matter how historians evaluate Garfield, the quote above struck me as something that could be applied to the next position group in the 2018 Spring Overview series — the wide receivers.

While 2017 was a step forward for the Ohio State passing offense, there is still much work that can be done to continue to elevate the entire group going into 2018. Even Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer would like better production from the wide receivers, as he said on the first day of spring practice.

“Receiver, we’ve been good. We’ve not been elite. I think we’ve been really good. We were elite in ’14. We were elite. We looked at much more than just catches. We’ve been good. Last year, very good group. Maybe not the first-rounder that was making the ridiculous catches all the time, but we look at the blocking. We look at more than just that.  So that’s the position I want to see those guys develop into being. There’s some elite people that are potentially in that group.”

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing articles that will examine the various position groups within the team, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Game, scheduled for April 14th. These pieces will look at the position groups from positions of least concern to greatest concern, based upon the returning players, incoming recruits, and performances that were seen throughout the 2017 season. With spring practice, the threat of injury is of paramount concern, and the possibilities of transfers during/following spring practice can have an impact upon the position rankings. As always, it is my sincere hope that these articles will spark discussion and dialogue, and I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I look forward to writing them. Onto the subject at hand, the 2018 Ohio State wide receivers.

Previous: Defensive line | Running Backs

Players Lost: Trevon Grimes (transferred to Florida after the 2017 season)

Players Returning: Parris Campbell (Redshirt Senior), Austin Mack (Junior), K.J. Hill (Redshirt Junior), Jaylen Harris (Sophomore), Binjimen Victor (Junior), Ellijah Gardiner (Redshirt Freshman), Terry McLaurin (Redshirt Senior), Johnnie Dixon (Redshirt Senior)

Incoming Recruits: Kamryn Babb, Cameron Brown, Chris Olave, L’Christian Smith

Why did I rank the wide receivers as an area of low concern? Look at the group of players returning. They are bundant with redshirt seniors and juniors. The wide receivers come into 2018 with experience across the board.

Looking at Ohio State’s 2017 season statistics, the only player with at least 10 receptions who will not be on the 2018 Ohio State is departing senior tight end Marcus Baugh. The top three receivers: K.J. Hill (56 receptions, 3 touchdowns), Parris Campbell (40 receptions, 3 touchdowns), and Terry McLaurin (29 receptions, 6 touchdowns) all return for the Buckeyes.

Hill will be withheld from spring practice as he rehabs a shoulder injury. Of the receivers returning, Johnnie Dixon (18 receptions, 8 touchdowns) and Binjimen Victor (23 receptions, 7 touchdowns) return as the best red-zone options for the Ohio State passing attack.

Let’s get back to James Garfield’s quote. Even with the return of so many experienced wide receivers, 2018 represents a dramatic opportunity for the position group to move collectively forward.

No matter who emerges as Ohio State’s starting quarterback in 2018, the possibility/probability(?) is that Ohio State will utilize a passing attack that stretches opposing defenses beyond what fans have come to expect during the Urban Meyer era.

While OSU has been using the wide receivers in a rotational manner, a player to keep an eye on during the spring practices is rising junior Austin Mack. Mack (24 receptions, 2 touchdowns) is a roommate of quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and could emerge as a go-to target if Haskins is the starting quarterback.

Of the incoming freshmen, none were early enrollees for spring practice. Despite missing spring practice, it will bear watching to see which true freshmen, if any, are able to move up the wide receiver depth chart. Ohio State will be losing a significant number of receivers after the 2018 season, so any experience gained this year would be welcomed.

Jaylen Harris (2 receptions in 2017) and Ellijah Gardiner (redshirted in 2017) will look to the spring practices to solidify their places on the wide receiver depth chart before these freshmen arrive on campus this summer.


11 Responses

  1. The returning receivers have an abundance of talent. That is not an issue. The large stride that the receivers should make is consistency, especially catching the ball in traffic. That is what can propel the Buckeye passing attack to something special.

  2. A new QBs best friend is great RBs and great receivers. Whoever wins the job is going to have roughly 6-7 experienced receivers to throw the ball too. The main 6 all have been in the program for 3-5 years and I think will finally be able to showcase what they have with a QB that can throw the ball around better.

    Personally I think Austin Mack is set to have a huge year in 2018 if Haskins wins the job. Those two will be on the same page all season. Mack will be our first 1,000 yard receiver in 16 years.

  3. The WR situation the past two years has been the worst I have ever seen at OSU in my 41 years. Its kind of ironic because Meyer is regarded as the far superior recruiter but the WRs Tress brought in were literally 10 times better (Holmes, Ginn, Gonzalez, Devin Smith, Michael Thomas, Posey, Hartline, Robiskie, Sanzenbacher, etc). Hopefully the young guys can begin to turn things around (starting with Mack)…I believe that guys like Campbell, Hill, Dixon, McLaurin simply are who they are. I get the seniority thing, but for this offense to take the next step in may mean the young guys being allowed to play. All those WRs returning from last year may simply have created a log jam that keeps more talented WRs on the bench (if we the seniority route),

    1. Fwiw, Meyer signed Michael Thomas, though Thomas committed to Tressel and signed with OSU in 2011 before heading to Fork Union. Meyer then signed him again in 2012. In 2011, OSU’s leading receiver had 14 catches. It was a freshman. This group was vastly superior to that group imo. They have their limitations for sure, but let’s not forget some of the receiving groups of the past. 2001 had Jenkins and Vance and no other WR caught more than Ricky Bryant’s six catches. Jamar Martin was the 4th-leading receiver. In 2000, they needed a walk-on to solidify the room. 1999 was just Rambo and Germany. 2008 was Robiskie, Small, Hartline, Sanzenbacher, and Posey, but only Robo had more than 21 catches. Last year’s team had 5 WRs catch more than 21 passes, and Dixon (18) and Saunders (17) were close as well. 2009 was Posey and Sanzenbacher. Ray Small was the No. 3 with 15 catches. And let’s not forget that in 2016, Curtis Samuel caught 74 passes for 865 yards. Your list of receivers begins with the 2002 recruiting class and ends with the 2012 recruiting class. That’s 11 years. Meyer has had six recruiting classes on the field so far.

      1. Gerd, four of those guys in that 2008 corps went on to play in the NFL. The talent was there. Mike Thomas was a Tress recruit…we all know the technicality. Fact remains, the WR talent has dropped off immensely. Do you think anybody from the last two years WR Corp is going first round as did Ginn, Gonzalez and Holmes? Do you think any will gobsecomd round as did Robo and Smith? Do you think any will have the career Hartline had in the NFL? What was your point again? And having a pair of good WR like the Jenkins/Vance year can be better than just 6 “guys”. Jenkins is the most underrated OSU WR by far.

        1. Michael Thomas and Curtis Samuel went in the 2nd round. Getting first rounders is the next step. Not sure if anybody on the roster is a first-round pick. The first rounders you mentioned were signed in 2002, 2003, and 2004. JT went 7 years after that without signing another. Urban Meyer just signed his seventh class. We’ll know in three years or so if his WR recruiting ended up as bad as Tressel’s.

          1. Yes…but setting aside those first rounders, you still can’t show me anything near Thomas, Smith, Robiskie, Hartline, Posey, Sanzebacher in the rotation the last two years. Forget first rounders. Robo would easily be the best WR on the last two corps (as would Hartline, Posey, Smith, Thomas, and Sanz). I hope and PRAY it turns and I am wrong. But cut it out…there is no arguing who recruited better WRs.

            1. Meyer signed Thomas. Smith was always going to be a Buckeye and Meyer/Zach Smith turned him into a 2nd rounder. Smith, Robiskie, Hartline, Posey, Sanzenbacher are all from Ohio. The top-ranked Ohio WRs since then have pretty much all gone to Ohio State. Credit Jim Tressel for being in the right place at the right time. I’m not being dismissive, just saying that if you’re talking simply about recruiting WRs, citing players landed from Ohio is more about coincidence than recruiting.

              1. How is landing players from Ohio more about coincidence than recruiting? If a kid is from Ohio you have to recruit him. Look at the last class we just signed…its no coincidence that it had very few kids from Ohio (as that is a result of purposeful and intentional recruiting). So just like its no coincidence when we don’t recruit Ohio kids, its no coincidence when we do. All that said, I think you are missing my overall point that the WR talent under Meyer has been pretty disappointing thus far. You keep citing Michael Thomas (whom Tress recruited) and Curtis Samuel…but the fact that Samuels A COLLEGE RUNNING BACK is what you have to cite for your WR argument only underscores my point.

                1. Landing Ohio players is about coincidence because if there aren’t Ohio players who are good enough to be Buckeyes, then they don’t get offered. In terms of Curtis Samuel, he was an H-back in 2015 and 2016, which is a receiver position at OSU, fwiw. He was also drafted as a receiver. I agree there have been disappointments, but I’d argue the talent in Ohio has been lacking for a while, which also impacts Ohio State. Meyer has been able to work around it though.

Comments are closed.