The Ohio State Buckeyes head into the the 2018 College Football Regular season with their top-six receivers from 2017 all returning.
Interim Head Coach Ryan Day has plenty of offensive weapons at his disposal. Cindy Boren of The Washington Post wrote an informative and useful article about Day earlier this month. In the article, it mentioned Urban Meyer saying that Day had utilized his experience under Chip Kelly into the Buckeyes’ system, officially “Kelly-izing” the offense last season. In the piece Boren mentioned the passing offense going from “81st Nationally to 36th”.
The jump was quite impressive, but with the six top receivers coming back, there’s plenty of reason to believe Dwayne Haskins (or Tate Martell on occasion) will have the benefit of slinging the ball into the hands of highly-skilled athletes all around the gridiron.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the 6 aforementioned wide receivers by the numbers…
The Leaders of the Bunch
Campbell led the squad with 584 yards receiving and was second with with 40 receptions. Last year at this time, Campbell was looked to a as a player who would partially fill the void of Curtis Samuel, who was heading off to the National Football League.
While Campbell didn’t put up gaudy numbers on a consistent basis, he did show flashes of brilliance. He burst into the spotlight quickly with 6 receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown against the Hoosiers, but actually had some key drops in that same game. An injury sidelined him at an inopportune time when his team got pummeled by the Hawkeyes, but he was able to make solid contributions again in the last two games. Campbell reeled in a 57-yard TD reception in the 2017 Big Ten Championship Game agains the Wisconsin Badgers and finished off with three rushing attempts for 42 yards against the USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
Expect Campbell to be nothing short of a stud in 2018. When you watch him he looks like a track star outrunning defenders ad nauseam.
K.J. Hill led the Buckeyes with 54 receptions and was only behind Campbell with 549 yards receiving. Hill didn’t have any stats that jumped off the page, but he was the only player on the team with at least one reception in every single game. Hill was also a pivotal piece in OSU’s dramatic 39-38 win over Penn State, with 12 receptions for 102 yards in the victory.
Hill is rather shifty– making defenders miss in space while making it look easy on several occasions. Expect Hill to step his game up even more in 2018, as the offense will likely require the quarterbacks to run less and throw the ball more.
The Middle-of-the-Pack Guys
McLaurin finished third on the team in yards receiving (436), receptions (29) and touchdown receptions (6).
McLaurin only had two games in 2017 without a reception (November 11th at home versus Michigan State and November 25th on the road against Michigan).
While McLaurin never managed to put a 100-yard game on his resume, he did score first-half touchdowns against Penn State (14 yards), Iowa (29 yards) and Wisconsin (84 yards).
With so many big names coming back, 2018 is a season in which McLaurin could stand out or blur in with the crowd. Only time will tell. That being said—he has the speed and intangibles to dominate at the college level.
Johnnie Dixon was “lightning in a bottle” durning the 2017 season for the Bucks.
Despite only having 18 grabs for 422 yards, Dixon led all receivers in both touchdowns (8) and yards per reception (23.44). (The last stat is excluding Demario McCall who only had two receptions all year). It’s remarkable that four of every nine receptions for Dixon ended with six points on the board.
However, Dixon had quite a disappointing end to his 2017 campaign. In his last five appearances he only had a single reception for nine yards and failed to catch a pass in four of those outings.
Despite his finish to the season not looking so hot; Dixon was electric with 17 receptions for 413 yards and 8 TDs in his first five games he suited up for in 2017. Expect Dixon to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the entirety of the 2018 season.
Under-the-radar Guys Who Could Be Primed For A Big Year
Binjimen Victor was actually second on the squad in TD receptions with seven.
Victor used his 6-foot-4-inch height to his advantage, making multiple highlight-reel plays near the sideline and showing the ability to time his jumps nicely and catch the ball over defenders in impressive fashion.
While it’s difficult to imagine Victor being one of the top players in yardage (had 349 yards receiving in 2017) in 2018, it’s not a stretch to say he should be getting plenty of touches in the red zone and could very well lead all wideouts in the touchdown category when it’s all said and done.
Austin Mack only had 343 yards receiving in 2017, but likely will yield superior results in 2018.
After only 2 receptions for 15 yards in his freshman season, Mack made some serious progress in his second season at The Ohio State University. Mack had a 90-yard performance in the victory over Penn State and ended on on a high note with 3 receptions for 56 yards against USC.
Mack may be the last receiver on this list, but his crisp route-running ability could turn heads across the country and catapult him near the top of the receiving group in 2018.