This reader submission has been edited for brevity.
Q — Below I have the receivers listed who will probably get 95% of the catches in 2018. Yes, we could have a freshman break out (or Jaylen Harris), but in theory, let’s say the top 6 (again) of Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin, K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victor get most of the snaps and catches this year.
So here is my question or concern, what if the following happens this year: Haskins performs like we all hope with huge passing numbers to a bunch of different receivers, in particular to Hill, Mack, and Victor. And then Haskins goes pro.
What about 2019?
Campbell is gone, Dixon will be gone, McLaurin will be gone, C.J. Saunders will be gone. It’s very conceivable, I would argue, that a good year out of Hill, Mack, and Victor and they could go pro with Haskins. So that leaves us with Harris (who I feel will be good) and a bunch of unproven freshmen who will probably have a combined four catches all year because there just isn’t enough room to get them on the field. Oh and by the way. Tate Martell is throwing to them in his first year of starting.
Now this is what I want to hear about or have discussed: Is there a scenario, or could someone make an argument, that it would make sense to look at either choosing Victor or Mack to redshirt along with C.J. Saunders this year? Can we talk Victor, or Mack into “Do what Mike Thomas did and sit out a year in the middle of your career. You can be THE dominant big receiver next year instead of being in a crowded WR room/rotation.”
I know it’s a hard sell to them, but what is best for the program? Should Urban Meyer think about long term (2 years at least) regarding roster management at WR? It could be really scary how inexperienced we are at WR next year and with the combination of a new running QB (I know, I know I think Tate has a better arm than people give him credit for, but won’t have the experience). We will have loads of talent, but potentially, virtually NO real game experience in the passing game.
Keep up the good work.
A — Yes, that was a lot of words for, basically, one question. And yes I could have made it shorter by not including “Keep up the good work.”
But let’s talk this out point by point.
First, I fully expect the incumbent six Buckeye receivers to get most of the catches, but it won’t be 95%. Last year, they actually accounted for “just” 66% of Ohio State’s receptions. That number could go up, but there will still be plenty of passes to go around. In terms of the percentage of receptions by wide receivers, those six did account for 89.6% of the passes caught by receivers. That percentage may stay the same, but I still expect more receptions than last year by other receivers not in the top six. (I also expect more receptions by the top six.)
So what happens if Dwayne Haskins performs well enough to turn pro? The coaching staff would be ecstatic. They want all of their players to perform well enough to have NFL options. It’s up to the coaches to make sure there is somebody waiting in the wings. Losing a one-year starter is never ideal, but Buckeye fans should be rooting for such a season. I can assure you that this is what the Ohio State coaches are hoping for. They’ll deal with the 2019 quarterback situation next year.
But first, let’s allow Haskins to struggle before we start saying goodbye.
The receivers are going to take a huge hit, however. We know for a fact that Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin are playing their final seasons. K.J. Hill told me this spring that he is playing as if this will be his final season as well. Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor are true juniors, so if they play well enough, they will both have decisions to make. Regarding C.J. Saunders, he is considered a redshirt junior at this point, so he will be back in 2019 if he wants to return.
The 2019 Ohio State receiving corps is going to be very young, but there is talent there. The 2018 class could have five receivers in it, and don’t forget about incoming 5-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert. The Buckeyes already have a 5-star receiver committed in the 2019 recruiting class in Garrett Wilson, and they won’t stop there.
So yes, they may be young, but youth isn’t all bad.
Now as far as talking Victor or Mack into redshirting, it ain’t gonna happen. Their situations are not really comparable to Michael Thomas, who was redshirted as a true sophomore. Thomas wasn’t redshirted because there were too many receivers ahead of him, he was redshirted because he wasn’t ready to play and they didn’t want to waste another season of eligibility like they did in 2012.
When Thomas redshirted, he had three career catches for 22 yards. Victor and Mack were both in the rotation full time last season and they both earned starts. The staff expects both of them to be two of the best receivers in the Big Ten, so there is no way they would want to eliminate one of them as an option for a new starting quarterback who will need as much comfort as he can find.
Plus, if these are players that you are worried are good enough to leave early for the NFL, then you better play them while you have them.
In other words, it’s a good problem to have. Yes, the timing could definitely suck for the Buckeyes next year, but the coaches are preparing for the worst by trying to sign the best.
I don’t expect both Victor and Mack to leave early, but I would not be surprised at all if one of them does. There are going to be opportunities available for some young receivers in 2019, and it will be interesting to see how the freshmen jockey for that position this season. Any experience they receive this year will only help them next year.
With how Ohio State is recruiting, this should excite the fans. New stars help to make college football the best sport there is, and in 2019 you’ll get to see some of those young Buckeyes emerging as stars.
Who knows, if all goes well, we’ll even get to worry about them leaving early in a couple of years.