COLUMBUS — Earlier this year, when Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell wrestled with the decision of whether to enter the NFL draft or return for his senior season the scouting report could be distilled down to a single sentence.
He had the feet to play in the NFL but did he have the hands?
Campbell couldn’t disagree with that assessment so he is back at Ohio State, where he is making a difference for the No. 4 Buckeyes and making some improvements in his game at the same time.
The Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary graduate first made his mark at Ohio State as a kick returner in 2016.
Last season he caught 40 passes for 584 yards and three touchdowns. His speed was elite, but his ability to catch the ball, especially when he was tracking down deep passes, raised some questions.
“I knew my weaknesses. I knew what I needed to work on. Obviously, the next level is something you dream of. It’s kind of always there,” Campbell said after catching eight passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-6 win over Tulane on Saturday. “But I knew I needed to get better and become a more polished receiver. I’m working on that.”
Campbell has 19 catches for 299 yards and five touchdowns in Ohio State’s first four games this season.
“One of my main goals was to become a more polished receiver, whether that’s routes, whether that’s catching deep balls. I honestly came back with that goal, with that mission, and put all my time and effort into it. I truly think I’m getting better as a receiver,” he said.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said, “He should have come back. I think he’s a top first-round draft pick at some point. But he had to improve his ball skills, especially downfield. He’s really playing well.”
Campbell said while he is playing well he does not second guess his decision to stay at Ohio State and he’s not done improving.
“Honestly when I made the decision I was 100 percent on coming back. That’s where my mind was, that’s where my head was throughout the entire process. My main thing was I didn’t want to have any regrets. When I made the decision I didn’t have any,” he said.
“One thing Coach Hartline (receivers coach Brian Hartline) preaches to the whole receiver unit is that once you get comfortable, something is wrong. I’m never comfortable with my performance. I’m always looking to get better. Obviously, I had a good day today. But I need to be consistent and get better.
“I’m the type of guy who is a hard grader on myself. I knew my weaknesses coming out of last year. And then you look at the best receivers in the NFL and you see their strengths. There’s not many weaknesses in the top NFL receivers. I knew I had a lot of work to do,” Campbell said.
That work paid off with touchdown catches of 37 yards and 14 yards on Saturday. Next spring, it could pay off in a different way in the NFL draft.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.