This has been a week that no college football player expects to go through.
With Urban Meyer firing Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith amid domestic violence allegations this week, the players left behind in Smith’s receivers room can’t just sit in limbo.
One of those players is redshirt senior Parris Campbell, who was in Chicago as one of the Buckeyes’ three player representatives at the Big Ten Media Days.
Smith was the only position coach that Campbell has known, so when he was asked about his reaction to the firing, the answer wasn’t a surprise.
“It’s a devastating reaction,” he said. “It’s not something you expect, especially at this time, we’re a week out.”
With his next words, however, he made it clear that even though they lost their position coach, they had not lost their way. They would rely on each other to continue in the proper direction as camp nears.
“I think the main focus and the main goal for the wideout room right now is just to lean on each other,” Campbell said. “We need each other in a moment like this. It’s a huge loss, but I think we’ll move forward. Everything hasn’t changed. We’re the same group. Still Zone 6. We’ll still have the same motives. [We’re] ready to get going for the season.”
Campbell and his teammates say they are ready to get going, and they aren’t going to have to wait much longer. Fall camp is a little over a week away, but practice is not the place to be distracted.
For the young receivers, their world was just turned upside down. The Buckeyes have four true freshmen and two second-year players at the position, and Campbell knows that those players must not be left behind as the veterans try to cope with what has happened.
“I think it helps a lot just because we have a lot of mature guys,” he said. “We’re not naive to the situation. We understand the critical time that it is right now. But I think me, Terry McLaurin, and Johnnie Dixon being the eldest guys of the group, we’ll be able to wrap things up and make sure the freshmen understand as well and the younger guys understand and just move forward.”
On Tuesday, Urban Meyer expressed no concerns about replacing Smith at this late date, and one of his reasons why was because of his veteran receivers. Some of the best leaders on the entire football team are wide receivers, so expect those leadership skills on full display in order to simply keep themselves up to speed until a replacement is named.
Meyer has touted the maturity of the receivers throughout the calendar year, and now that maturity will be put to the test like no other position before it.