For the first time in school history, Ohio State has three receivers on the same team who have accounted for 1,000 yards receiving in their respective careers.
Fourth-year junior K.J. Hill (1,583 yards), senior Parris Campbell (1,416 yards), and senior Terry McLaurin (1,129 yards) each have topped 1,000 career receiving yards. Senior Johnnie Dixon, who had a big day last week at Maryland with six catches for 102 yards, is just 41 yards away from joining the club.
For the seniors, Saturday is their last game in Ohio Stadium and their final opportunity to lead the team out of their home tunnel as captains.
While their stats speak for themselves and leave a mark in the Ohio State history books, the impact they have made on this team is irreplaceable.
“I guess I think we’ve done a great job [as captains]. You’d have to ask others,” Campbell said. “It was a challenge for sure, but having strong leaders around this program, such as myself, such as Terry, such as Johnnie, kind of made it easy just because it wasn’t a one-man show. We were able to lean on each other when leadership was necessary.”
Senior offensive lineman Demetrius Knox believes all three have been worthy captains this season, but that was to be expected.
“I can remember when we first came in,” Knox said. “You know, the 2014 class and [strength] Coach Mick [Marotti] just talked about how much of a key role that they were going to have in our future at Ohio State. You know, three of them became captains this year and reverting back to what Coach Mick said, they are an important part of our team.”
Dixon, McLaurin, and Campbell have been praised for their leadership all season, on and off the field.
“They know how to command a room,” Knox said. “Not just because of their voice, but because of what they show us every day, whether it’s practice or in the games, the weight room, everything. Being a captain, all eyes are on you and they do everything to perfection.”
This season more than ever the Buckeyes have needed leadership. The have faced adversity, dating back to before the season in July. After losing the position coach Zach Smith — and then their head coach in Urban Meyer — the receivers were the guys who stepped up to lead the team through the challenges.
The next set of challenges then came in West Lafayette, where the Buckeyes were handed a 49-20 loss at Purdue, and they’ve since had to deal with the ups and downs and the outside noise.
“Obviously we’ve had our hurdles, we’ve had ups and downs, adversity hit us left and right,” Campbell said. ” I kind of feel like we’ve been in a title fight this whole season. We were getting uppercutted and hooked all over the place. We kind of stood up strong. We took it punch by punch, adversity by adversity, and just handled it day by day.”
From 2014 National Champions, to now playing in their final home game against Michigan on Saturday, their time at Ohio State has been a wild ride.
The past, however, will be put on hold because they all know what’s at stake with this game. Emotions will be high, and their ultimate goal is still in front of them.
“It’s been a long road,” Campbell said. “You come into that stadium and look up and see 110,000. I’m sure it will be packed. My family will be waiting for me at the end of the line. I’m sure I will be emotional, but you know I’m not going to let that get in the way of what’s at stake. Come kickoff there is still a mission ahead. I’m sure it will be an emotional time but I’m not going to let it get in the way.”
This trio of captain wideouts has left a well-defined impact on this team and led the Buckeyes through adversity. The goal now is to get a win over the Wolverines and also to be remembered for their efforts over the last five years.
“Suiting up for the last time in Ohio Stadium, I just hope people know that I gave it everything I have on offense, special teams, as a leader,” McLaurin said. “I worked hard from when I was a recruit to when I walk out the door. Going out with a win, that’s what I hope to accomplish this week.”