COLUMBUS, Ohio — Preseason practice is wrapping up at Ohio State and it’s full speed ahead for the opener at Indiana on Aug. 31. That also means our Camp Questions series is hitting the homestretch, and with the depth chart taking shape, that narrows the focus for our Land of 10 reporters.
All week they’ll be looking at key areas on the roster and forecasting some statistical leaders for the Buckeyes this season. Up next: Who will step up to lead the Buckeyes talented — but unproven — wide receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns in 2017
Austin Ward: Parris Campbell and Binjimen Victor
When it comes to pure volume of receptions, it seems highly likely that Parris Campbell is going to have the most opportunities to get involved on the passing game. So, my answer takes a bit of tweaking with the question. In terms of making the biggest impact, Binjimen Victor is the pick. Nobody has quite the same upside at the position as the freakishly athletic sophomore. His production per touch is going to make him the most important target for J.T. Barrett this season.
There were only glimpses at what the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder could do as a freshman as he adjusted to the speed of the game and worked to add some muscle to a skinny frame. But those glimpses were tantalizing considering his speed to stretch the field, his leaping ability to go up and get the football, and his hands that should make him a reliable weapon when the Buckeyes look his way. Ohio State has really not found a consistent replacement as a true home-run threat since Devin Smith left the program. And while those are certainly big shoes to fill, Victor has all the tools to get the job done.
If he makes that expected leap so many freshmen make as sophomores, expect the yardage and touchdowns to pile up for Victor even without necessarily a huge number of receptions.
Jeremy Birmingham: Parris Campbell, Binjimen Victor and Johnnie Dixon
I realize that I’m taking liberties with my answer, but that’s OK. There could be five or six different answers because there are that many guys playing at a very high level right now. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but expectations are very high. It really depends on who can stay healthy and how effective the rest of the Buckeyes offense is.
I agree with Austin that it’s likely Campbell leads Ohio State in catches. He should be used in a manner similar to how Curtis Samuel was a year ago. He will be the guy that is most open, catches some easy stuff behind the line of scrimmage and, from the H-back spot, could find himself working against linebackers. That said, I don’t know that I’d expect Campbell to replicate the yards Samuel put up. I’m not convinced he has the same game-breaking ability despite his straight-line speed.
I could see Campbell in the 55-60 reception range with 500-600 yards receiving. That would be a darn good year. I could see Victor, if his confidence catches up to his talent, hauling in 30-35 balls for a similar number of yards. I think he’s got the best chance to be the vertical threat that Barrett and the offense need on a consistent basis. His physical attributes are better than any player on the Ohio State roster. He’ll need the opportunity to to grow as a complete receiver, but he’s got all the tools to fill up the stat sheet.
On the touchdown side of things, I’ve gone back and forth on three guys who I think are similar players. I’m going to settle on Dixon, though. I’ve got Dixon just edging out Austin Mack and K.J. Hill. These guys are complete wideouts. They’re capable of being on the field in run situations, pass situations and long-ball situations. Each of them is physically strong enough to become a viable red-zone receiving option, too. They’re the route-runners, the zone-busters and I think because of uncertainty at tight end (beyond the now-healthy Marcus Baugh), they could find themselves in go-to situations more often than not.
This could be a special season for Zach Smith and his wide receivers.
Previous Ohio State camp questions
The post Ohio State football: Who will lead the Buckeyes receivers in 2017? appeared first on Land of 10.
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