K.J. Hill called Ohio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer a “receiver freak.”
That’s a big reason Hill left SEC country — he’s from North Little Rock, Ark. — to play for the Buckeyes. He knew Meyer’s history with Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas, Braxton Miller, Jalin Marshall and others.
“I wanted to be the best receiver in the country,” Hill said, “and I knew he could get me there.”
Hill, a redshirt freshman, got off to a good start in his college career. In his first game as a Buckeye, he caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett. It was Ohio State’s first touchdown of the 2016 season and set the tone in a 77-10 route of Bowling Green at Ohio Stadium.
Hill’s parents filmed the touchdown from the stands, and Meyer and shared the video on Twitter.
If someone had to guess who would score Ohio State’s first touchdown, Hill would have ranked maybe eighth or ninth. Barrett would have ranked ahead of him. Running back Mike Weber and hybrid backs, Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson, would have ranked higher. Four of five wide receivers would have been more likely to score the first touchdown because Hill said he ranked fifth or sixth on the depth chart.
Hill was even left off the depth chart when it was first released days before the game, but that turned out to be an oversight. Meyer knew about Hill’s ability. He almost played him a year ago as a true freshman.
“We almost pulled his redshirt and probably should have just to get him so experience,” Meyer said. “His only issue is consistency right now. We’re getting him more and more involved in special teams as well. I don’t want to say he’s typical, but he’s a guy that works his tail off. He’s shown marked improvement.”
Hill caught one other pass for 11 yards in the opener. Nine players had at least one catch. Barrett threw six touchdown passes. Hill called himself blessed to catch the first.
“The original play was a run play,” Hill said. “They played zero coverage. J.T. checked into an isolation with me on the safety. I locked him. He threw the ball. I caught the ball.”
Hill didn’t think he would be the player to score the first touchdown, but knew he had to make a play if he wanted a chance to make more.
“If you don’t make that play, somebody is coming right behind you,” Hill said. “They’ve got the same opportunity. Every time you get a ball or a chance, you’ve got to make the most of it.”