COLUMBUS – The search for playmakers at wide receiver is now into its second year at Ohio State.
Ohio State’s best receiver last season was running back Curtis Samuel and the deep ball was absent from the Buckeyes’ offense in most games.
There were only four receptions of more than 40 yards by OSU players last season – a 79-yard catch against Bowling Green and a 75-yarder against Nebraska by Curtis Samuel, a 47-yard catch by K.J. Hill against Bowling Green and a 43-yarder by Dontre Wilson against Wisconsin.
It’s not like Ohio State hasn’t tried to address the issue. All six of the players expected to get most of the playing time at wide receiver this season were nationally ranked 4-star recruits and so were the top receivers in this year’s freshman class.
So what are the problems? Why haven’t the Buckeyes been able to hit big plays in the passing game?
Some people blame quarterback J.T. Barrett. Others say it’s the receivers. Receivers coach Zach Smith says it’s a combination of a lot of things.
“It’s not looking for a deep ball guy, it’s looking for the offense to complete deep balls and execute them,” Smith said.
“We’ve had guys get open, we’ve had guys not get open. The quarterback doesn’t make a great throw, the offensive line doesn’t protect. Call it the perfect storm,” he said.
A perfect storm that produced far from perfect results and might have played a big role in a coaching shake-up that saw Kevin Wilson replace Ed Warinner as offensive coordinator and Ryan Day get the quarterbacks coach job that Tim Beck had last season.
Those changes came not long after Ohio State threw for 86 yards, 124 yards and 127 yards and only one touchdown in its last three games a year ago against Michigan State, Michigan and Clemson.
Here’s a look at the Buckeyes’ top receivers, their credentials and their production so far:
Johnnie Dixon: He was a 4-star recruit and the No. 9-ranked wide receiver nationally when he signed with Ohio State in 2014. Knee problems have limited him to seven catches in his career, six of them last season.
Dixon, a fourth-year junior, considered quitting football after the Fiesta Bowl, but stayed and was a standout in the spring game.
Binjimen Victor: He was a 4-star recruit and the No. 13-ranked receiver nationally when he signed with OSU in 2016. He had 4 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown last season.
Parris Campbell: The Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary graduate was a 4-star recruit who was ranked No. 23 nationally among wide receivers in 2014. All 13 of his career catches came last season. He will be used mostly as an H-back this season.
K.J. Hill: He was a 4-star recruit who was the No. 17 wide receiver nationally in the 2015 recruiting class. He caught 18 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown last season.
Terry McLaurin: He was a 4-star recruit and was ranked No. 35 nationally as a receiver in 2014. All 11 of his career catches were last season.
Austin Mack: He was a 4-star recruit in 2016. He was the No. 11 receiver nationally in his class. He caught two passes last season and played on special teams.
Jaylen Harris and Trevon Grimes: The two incoming freshmen were both 4-sar recruits. Grimes, who had ACL surgery as a senior in high school, was ranked No. 6 nationally and Harris was No. 28.