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tBBC Pre-Fall Outlook: Ohio State Wide Receivers

Discussion in 'News' started by Brandon Zimmerman, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. Pre-Fall Outlook: Ohio State Wide Receivers
    Brandon Zimmerman
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


    [​IMG]
    The Ohio State receiving corps will have a completely different look next fall as they are forced to replace all three starters. Gone is Michael Thomas, who caught 110 balls for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns over his two years starting. Gone is Braxton Miller, who is one of the most dynamic athletes Ohio State has ever seen. In Miller’s one year of starting at wide receiver, he produced over 600 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. Also gone is Jalin Marshall, who started at wide receiver after switching over from the H-Back role. In

    [​IMG]
    These guys will all be missed. (Image courtesy of elevenwarriors.com)


    his first year as wide receiver, Marshall had 36 catches and combined for over 500 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. All together, these three dynamic weapons combined for 117 catches, 1,598 receiving yards, and 18 touchdowns.

    I guess this is the time where I am supposed to tell you how Ohio State is in a world of hurt at wide receiver. I mean, they lost all three starters and each one of them now plays in the NFL. That is good but I’m here to tell you I think they will be just fine. Outside of Michael Thomas, the Buckeyes were at a disadvantage last year throwing the ball because in an effort to put the best players on the field they were willing to have growing pains with players learning how to play wide receiver. After the injuries to Noah Brown and Corey Smith, three of the Buckeyes top four wide receivers were amazing athletes transitioning to becoming full-time wide receivers. As you already know; Miller was transitioning from quarterback, Marshall was transitioning from H-Back, and Curtis Samuel was transitioning from running back.

    If we all would have taken a second to acknowledge the unfortunate amount of injuries at wide receiver, the drawn out quarterback controversy, and proceeded to slowly removed our scarlet colored glasses (Horacio style)…the writing was on the wall to indicate some struggles in the passing game. For the 2015 season, Ohio State only had 2,455 passing yards (188 yards per game) and 19 touchdowns. This is significantly lower than 2014 when they threw for 3,707 passing yards (247 ypg) and 42 touchdowns. It would be easy to just assume this was a result of an increased workload for Zeke but that just isn’t true. Elliott only had 16 more total carries in 2015 and averaged only 13 more rushing yards per game.

    This year is a different year, the Buckeyes wide receiver corps is loaded with former top high school receivers and guys who have been playing primarily wide receiver at Ohio State for a couple years. With the return of Heisman candidate J.T. Barrett and a new running back, I think we will see the Ohio State offense throw the ball a lot more than we did last year but who will be the starters? In February, I took a look at each of the receivers and made my predictions on who would start. Since this time, we have had the annual spring game where Coach Meyer and his staff let the quarterbacks and wide receivers take over and primarily throw the ball. Let’s take a look at how things have changed since then.

    Realistically, I think there are four guys in the running to start at the three vacant positions this year and none of them played in the spring game. The first potential starter is redshirt senior Corey Smith who has had a rocky road during his time at Ohio State. At times he has tantalized everyone with his playmaking ability but then at other times he has had major mistakes which have drastically changed the outcome of games for the Buckeyes. For his career at Ohio State, Smith has 25 catches for 317 yards.

    The next potential starter is another senior who was injured a majority of the 2015 season, Dontre Wilson. As I discussed Friday, Wilson will play a major role for Ohio State whether it is taking handoffs, catching passes, or in the return game. He is a dynamic athlete who has accounted for 573 receiving yards, 350 rushing yards, 1,354 return yards, and six

    [​IMG]
    A healthy Dontre Wilson should provide the Buckeye offense a much needed infusion.


    touchdowns over his two plus years of time as a Buckeye. As a fan, it is hard not to feel like Wilson has not lived up to the enormous hype he had before his freshman year. Now, just take a second to think about how those stats were primarily as a freshman and sophomore, then remember all the weapons Ohio State has had during his first two years and you can’t help but think Wilson may be set up for a big year if he gets a starting job. People were expecting Percy Harvin but maybe he is more of a Philly Brown…which isn’t a bad thing.

    Another player in the same boat as Wilson is junior Curtis Samuel. On Friday, I professed my hopes and desires for Samuel to be the starting running back but there is a major problem with these dreams…he has made the switch to H-back/wide receiver role and there is no indication he will be returning to RB. Last year after making the switch to H-back where he backed up Miller, Samuel racked up 421 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns which were both slightly lower than his freshman season. In my opinion, Samuel is the most dynamic weapon Ohio State has on offense this year. No matter where he starts, Samuel will make a huge impact. His ability to make people miss in space, speed/acceleration, and his catching ability is what separates him from guys like Wilson who he is in a battle with for the starting H-back role and Smith who he is battling for a starting wide receiver position.

    The fourth guy who has all but wrapped up a starting position is someone who has one career catch for nine yards and one rush for negative four yards. Noah Brown was the talk of fall camp heading into the 2015 season and was the starter opposite of Michael Thomas. Coaches and fellow players raved about his playmaking ability and the Buckeyes were ready to unleash him on the unsuspecting Virginia Tech defense. All that hype was for nothing after Brown suffered a

    [​IMG]
    Although he only has one career catch, Noah Brown is expected to be the top receiver.


    significant ankle injury towards the end of fall camp. At 6’2” and 222 pounds, Brown will give Barrett a big target on the outside and hopefully somewhat alleviate the loss of Michael Thomas.

    As I stated earlier, I believe (barring injuries) these are the four realistic starters at wide receiver this year. But that does not mean these are the only players we will see at wide out this year. Redshirt freshman Torrance Gibson, true freshman Austin Mack, sophomore Johnnie Dixon, and sophomore Parris Campbell all figure to play a huge part on offense this year gaining experience going into next year where they will be expected to step into starting positions.

    PREDICTIONS

    WR1 Pre-Spring Predicted Depth Chart Pre-Fall Predicted Depth Chart
    1.
    Noah Brown Noah Brown
    2. Torrance Gibson Torrance Gibson
    3. Johnnie Dixon Parris Campbell



    I feel like the top two here are pretty set in stone barring any injuries. Gibson may be the back-up but he will see a lot of time and use this season as a learning experience to get himself ready to start next year.

    WR2 Pre-Spring Predicted Depth Chart Pre-Fall Predicted Depth Chart
    1.
    Corey Smith Corey Smith
    2. K.J. Hill Austin Mack
    3. Austin Mack Parris Campbell



    Again, not much change here from my Pre-Spring prediction. Austin Mack had a great spring and I think has moved himself up the depth chart while a few of his fellow wide receivers sat out with injuries. I threw Parris Campbell into the mix at both wide receiver positions because he will play a lot this fall but I don’t think anyone knows where yet.

    H-Back Pre-Spring Predicted Depth Chart Pre-Fall Predicted Depth Chart
    1.
    Dontre Wilson Curtis Samuel
    2. Parris Campbell Dontre Wilson
    3. Demario McCall Parris Campbell



    I have moved Samuel into the starting job here over Wilson. I really like both of these players and they are probably my two break out players this year for the Buckeyes. One will technically be the “starter” but both will see the field at H-Back, WR, RB and returner. Their ability to be moved around will cause many defensive coordinators sleepless nights. Again, Campbell makes an appearance here as he will be a part of the offense in a variety of ways.

    I think the 2016 version of Zone 6 is in a position to be the most productive unit the Buckeyes have seen for a while. Unlike in years past, there is not a person on the three-deep I would be upset with starting. All seven guys listed are unproven but have the ability to be a dominant wide receiver. With Barrett returning and this receiving corps, the only stumbling block may be the inexperienced offensive line.

    The post Pre-Fall Outlook: Ohio State Wide Receivers appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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