Experienced group benefitting from expanded pass attack
Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell perform in front of big crowds on Saturdays and in front of smaller groups on weeknights.
The Ohio State Buckeyes wide receivers sometimes have their own two-man show after practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, entertaining the reporters who cover the team.
Ohio State’s interview sessions almost always feature large groups of writers, cameramen, photographers and TV reporters surrounding one player or coach at a roundtable. Dixon and Campbell started doing interviews together last season — sometimes with Binjimen Victor at their side — and they were at it again Tuesday night.
The wide receiver group as a whole has plenty to talk about. All six players in the rotation earned champion grades for their performances Saturday in a 49-26 victory against Indiana at Ohio Stadium. The No. 3 Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0) reached the midway point of the regular season with a perfect record for the fifth time in Urban Meyer’s seven seasons.
“The receivers were outstanding,” coach Urban Meyer said Monday.
Campbell leads the group in catches (35), yards (501) and touchdowns (7). He also leads the team in career receiving yards (1,206). K.J. Hill, who ranks second on the team with 31 catches and 364 yards, topped the 1,000-yard mark earlier this season. Terry McLaurin, who has 13 catches for 277 yards this season and 823 career yards, should hit the milestone soon.
Ohio State has the same wide receivers group as last season. The difference is the Buckeyes are throwing the ball more with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback. They attempted 20.5 passes per game last season with J.T. Barrett as the starter and are throwing it 27.5 times per game this season. Ohio State averages 364.7 passing yards per game this season compared to 262.8 last season.
The receivers have each improved individually as well with another year of experience.
“Each and every one of has developed,” Campbell said. “We’ve become more polished receivers. We’ve added more little tweaks and techniques to our game. We think about the game completely different than we did a year ago. I just feel like when we go into a game now, it’s completely different than it was in the past.”
Campbell, Dixon and McLaurin are fifth-year seniors. Hill, a redshirt junior, and Victor and Austin Mack, both juniors, each have one more season of eligibility.
For all the players, each game gives them a chance to showcase their talents for NFL scouts.
“You definitely have to be always ready,” Campbell said. “I think a lot of guys have a lot of pressure on them as well. Each and every route, we’re critiquing ourselves. We’re putting stuff on film even if we know the ball maybe isn’t coming our way. We want to run good routes because we know scouts watch that stuff. With a guy like Dwayne, you’ve got to be ready no matter what the read is or what the certain play is because you never know.”
The receivers have helped turn Haskins into a Heisman Trophy candidate, though they know making the big play may become harder as teams watch more and more film on Haskins.
“With a guy like Dwayne, who can really throw the ball over the place, they’ll probably try to take away the big shot,” Dixon said. “Probably coming down the line, we’re going to see more preventive defense with the deep ball.”