Not So Fast My Friend
KJ Hill went into the 2018 season expecting it to be his last at Ohio State. As a fourth-year junior, Hill’s plan was to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the 2019 NFL Draft with his teammates and fellow receivers Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, and Johnnie Dixon.
“Yeah, I thought I was done,” Hill said on Wednesday.
Hill thought the Rose Bowl was his final game in the Scarlet and Gray. Even though he wouldn’t say it at the time, the expectation was that his Ohio State career was over. And after 68 receptions for 865 yards and 6 touchdowns, it wouldn’t have been a bad way to go.
“To be honest, I felt like I was out the door,” he said. “But then again I had to think about what I really wanted to do. So when I went home for an extra week, I really thought about it and I wanted to come back.”
With Campbell, Dixon, and McLaurin gone, Hill is now the elder statesman. He is 50 receptions away from holding the career record at Ohio State for receptions. After weighing the options, the opportunities to help lead the team in 2019, as well as the benefits of being a senior, were too much to pass up.
“It factored in a lot,” he said. “Then coming out with them too played a part in it. With them upperclassmen and me being an underclassmen, I felt like I’d have more opportunities coming out as an upperclassmen, like the Senior Bowl and stuff like that.”
Who Cares Who’s Gone
Spring practice is only one week old, so when people ask about the 2019 version of the Ohio State offense, they compare it to last season since that is the most recent point of reference.
How will the quarterbacks compare to Dwayne Haskins? How will Parris Campbell be replaced? Will the running game look like it did last year?
When putting together an offense, however, new co-offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is more concerned about today and tomorrow than yesterday.
“I think it’s really important as a coach when you’re trying to develop an offense that you don’t compare it necessarily one year to the next,” Yurcich said. “I think you can be setting yourself up. What we have to do is take this group of guys and see where our strengths are, where our weaknesses are, where we can grow the most and try to become the best offense we can be in maximizing our personnel.
“That’s what concerns us most, not necessarily dwelling on losses or inefficiencies, but more strengths, weaknesses, where do we need to grow the most, where do we need to improve the most. This time of year we’re trying to figure those things out, and that will progress all the way into spring and into fall camp.”
Why Ohio State for Matt Barnes?
Every coach came for their own reasons, and for assistant secondary coach Matt Barnes, he simply wanted to be part of something great.
“Well, it’s a special place,” Barnes said. “You know, winningest football program in college football history, and just so much tradition. A chance to compete for a championship every year, but also to be a part of, for lack of a better way to put it, doing things the right way. Developing young men, giving them an opportunity to be successful in the classroom, on the field, and then the years that they spend after they’re done playing football.”