Freshman Buckeye Receivers Impressing So Far

Jaelen Gill Ohio State Football Buckeyes

Ohio State enters the 2018 season with three fifth-year senior wide receivers in Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin, as well as a fourth-year junior in K.J. Hill who has stated that his intention is for this to be his final season as a Buckeye.

Given that amount of pending change, it was no surprise that the Buckeyes went out and signed four receivers in Chris Olave, Kamryn Babb, Jaelen Gill, and Blue Smith in the 2018 recruiting class to eventually soften the blow of those veteran departures.

None of those receivers enrolled early, which means they have only gone through some summer workouts and are now about two-thirds of the way through their first fall camp. That didn’t stop Olave from having his black stripe removed recently, however.

A few days ago, acting Ohio State head coach Ryan Day released a statement full of updates on the team, and one of the areas he mentioned specifically were some of those freshmen receivers.

“The depth continues to grow with the emergence of the true freshmen and younger players, including Chris Olave and Jaelen Gill,” Day wrote. “Kamryn Babb is on pace for a full recovery and is working daily with sports medicine on his rehab.”

Babb, of course, tore his ACL during those summer workouts. It was his second ACL injury in as many years. Before his injury, however, he caught Parris Campbell’s eye.

“He’s a pure wideout,” Campbell said during Big Ten Media Days. “He’s a different type of dude. When he gets healthy, the world will see. He’s going to be good.”

Even though he was brand new to the program, Campbell and the other OSU receivers made sure that Babb knew he wasn’t going to go through this alone.

“When it happened we were all out there,” he said. “It was during individual drills. Honestly, I was kind of stuck for a minute because you’ve got a kid who just came off a torn ACL. Worked his way up, grinded to get healthy, and was looking to make an impact on the team and then goes out and gets hurt. That was tough.

“The number one thing we tried to do was just surround him with love, knowing that we were there for him even though he just got there. When you get there as a freshman, you’re kind of just lost. You don’t know who’s for you and who’s not. So I think the ability of us getting around him and showing him we were there helped him a lot.”

One of the reasons it was so easy for the team to support Babb is because they saw the work ethic that he possessed. They have also seen that in the other freshmen, which should bode well for this this season and in the future.

“One positive I can say about all of them is they just go to work,” Campbell said of the freshmen. “I think it’s kind of a new age. Most freshmen come in and it’s like they’re deer in the headlights. They don’t really know what’s going on. These guys came in and they just worked. They’re asking questions. They’re asking for advice. They’re following the lead. They’re not saying a whole lot. They’re just buckling down and working.”

With the new redshirt rules this season, each of the Buckeye freshmen can play in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility. That ability to see action in live games against an opposing defense will pay dividends down the road. It may even lead to a few freshmen earning more than four games this season, which is an opportunity that hasn’t really ever been presented before.

While Campbell knows the new rules will benefit his teammates, he laughed at the thought of it helping him when he was a true freshman in 2014.

“Honestly, me, I don’t think it would have benefited me at all because I was terrible,” he said. “I didn’t know wideout from the back of my hand, so I needed to develop.”

Campbell was making the transition from running back to an outside receiver, which took quite a bit of time. After three years mostly on the outside, Campbell then made the move inside to H-back after the 2016 season. He responded with his best season ever, leading the Buckeyes with 584 yards receiving last year.

Freshman Jaelen Gill is in a similar situation to Campbell. He was a high school running back, but now will transition to H-back. Unlike Campbell, however, Gill will play immediately at H-back and he also spent quite a bit of his time in high school catching passes.

Still, Campbell can see a resemblance between himself and Gill at the same age.

“A little bit,” Campbell said. “You can tell he’s a little raw right now at receiver. I’ve watched his high school film. When he has the ball in his hands, he’s elusive. But I can definitely see the comparisons because he’s a little raw right now, but he’ll be fine.”

Having a similar background, Campbell has taken Gill under his wings a bit and tried to teach him everything that he wishes he had known as a true freshman. But Gill isn’t special in that regard.

“I do that with all of the freshmen though,” Campbell said. “They’re about to go through the toughest part of their entire career. That freshman training camp is not easy. So for guys like Chris Olave, Blue Smith, Kamryn Babb, those guys. Just kind of get around all of those guys and give them advice.”

And given the attention and production of the freshmen so far, it would appear that at least some of Parris Campbell’s advice is paying off.

One Response

  1. My fellow Warrior Blue Smith is going to light it up!!

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