Positional Previews: The Wide Receivers by @Tongaricious

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As an Ohio State Buckeye fan, the start of football training camp brings a sudden jolt of excitement and a great deal of anticipation to see how this season will unfold. With the Buckeyes being the Defending National Champs, we will get every opponent’s best shot the entire year. There will essentially be a massive target on our backs, instead of being the hunter, we will become the hunted. So in preparation for this upcoming season, I will preview this season’s crop of Wide Receivers who will fill the shoes of former receivers, Devin Smith and Evan Spencer. I will also predict who will eventually start for the Buckeyes this season. Here we go!

Braxton Miller:
First off, I will start with Redshirt Senior turned Wide Out Braxton Miller. After suffering multiple injuries to his throwing shoulder he looks to become one of the many playmakers that the Buckeyes have in their arsenal. Although he still wants to play Quarterback and though his shoulder isn’t back up to full strength, Miller will try his hand at Wide Receiver during his last season as a Buckeye.

What he brings to the offense:
Braxton Miller brings electrifying speed and breathtaking playmaking ability. At 6’2”, 215 lbs., Miller will be a force to be reckoned with. He can shift in and out of cuts with ease and he would occasionally break defenders down with his shiftiness. He has the ability to bait defenders one way and then zoom past them in the opposite direction. Getting Miller down in space will be every defenses biggest test and it will add to the dynamic of the offense. During the Friday Night Lights event Miller was seen speaking to Keyshawn Johnson Sr. Accompany that with secret workout sessions with J.T. Barrett and the work done with Cardale Jones, Miller is oozing with potential. Oh and by the way, he may also be returning kicks this season. He is the weapon of all weapons.

My prediction:
I predict Miller to occupy the starting H-Back position. He might be new to the position, but I can see him impact defenses just with his presence. Defensive Coordinators will have fits and when Miller learns the ins and outs of the position, WATCH OUT! He has the game-breaking ability to disrupt defenses and he will add to Urban Meyer’s arsenal. You would be foolish to not put Miller into the game because he is too electrifying of an athlete! Miller will have a solid, if not outstanding season filled with highlight to cap of an illustrious career at Ohio State.

Michael Thomas:
Redshirt Junior Michael Thomas is another devastating weapon that Urban can and that Urban will unleash on every defense that they face. At 6’3”, 210 lbs., Thomas is a beast of Wide Receiver. Thomas showed his speed and playmaking ability making catch after catch. Whether it was in between multiple defenders or in one on one coverage, Thomas flashed improved vision and after the catch ability. He also proved that he can catch the rock anywhere on the field as we all saw in the Sugar Bowl game against Alabama.

What he brings to the offense:
Thomas has all the traits of a number one receiver. He can catch the ball in traffic, he can pluck it out of the air with ease and he has the adept ability to make defenders miss in the open field. He is a willing blocker and he brings physicality and mental toughness to the position.

My prediction:
Thomas will be the number one receiver at the beginning of the season. He is the most seasoned out of the bunch and he has more game experience at the position. I look for Thomas to increase his number of targets slightly, but not a great deal due to the amount of weapons that the Buckeyes have at their disposal. Needless to say, Thomas will have another solid season. It is unknown to me at this time if Thomas would jump to the NFL, but if he and the Buckeyes have another special season, he may take the plunge.

Jalin Marshall:
At 5’11”, 205 lbs. do not let his height fool you. The Redshirt Sophomore Marshall, just like Miller, is a former quarterback playing a different position. The only difference is Miller actually has College game experience at Ohio State and Marshall last played Quarterback in high school. Marshall has showed the ability to rebound as we all saw after his turnover filled game at Minnesota; he bounced back the following week as he logged three touchdown receptions and a punt return. He had sort of a Dr. Jekyll and Hyde type of year last year, but his future is still as bright as he wants it to be.

What he brings to the offense:
Marshall and Miller have similar game breaking abilities and they can hurt defenses in phase of the game. Whether it’s during kick offs, during punt returns or during his time at the hybrid position. He will find a way to hurt you, one way or another and often too. Marshall will look to build on his previous season. He will look to be the cause of fewer turnovers during critical moments during games. He will also look to become another weapon for Urban to play around with. Marshall is the prototype for now defunct “Percy Harvin” position. He has all the necessary skills to succeed in that position. He also has the ability to catch balls in traffic and has actual game time experience at the Wide Receiver position.

My prediction:
Marshall will rebound once he serves his one game suspension. He may find himself as a starter opposite of Thomas if he outperforms his peers during the summer camps. He will also bring depth at the hybrid position and the returner positions.

Dontre Wilson:
At 5’10” and a mere 185 lbs., the Junior Wilson will look to recover from a broken foot that he suffered during the win at East Langsing last season. Although the hype train from high school is still an ongoing thing, he will look to prove his worth, in any way possible. He was cited for a rule violation and he will serve a one game suspension to start the season.

What he brings to the offense:
Wilson can be a lethal weapon with his pure speed. Just like Miller and Marshall, he can also hurt you in many ways. He will mainly be utilized to add speed to the Buckeye offensive attack. He has the ability to make you miss or just flat out outrun you with his blazing speed. People may view him as a gimmick or a decoy, but he is just another weapon that Urban will utilize during the game. Everyone has a purpose and he will find his.

My prediction:
He will look to pick up where he last left off, returning punts and being moved around the field. With so much depth at the H-back position he may find himself being the odd man out. A move back to Running Back isn’t out of the question either, but that position is also deep. If he can prove that he can be a consistent pass catcher, he will be in line for some minutes. Whether that means that he is coming off the bench. It will be up to him to make the best of what is earned.

Noah Brown:
The Sophomore stands at 6’2”, 220 lbs. the former high school athlete has done nothing but show his playmaking ability when he was given the opportunity to shine. He is making an everlasting impression on the coaching staff and he may surprise a few folks this year. Brown is a bruiser of a Wide Receiver and judging from his size, it’ll be difficult to bring him down with ease.

What he brings to the offense:
Brown brings the physicality to the defender and doesn’t let up one bit. He has shown the desire for contact whether he is running the ball or running after the catch, he is a load. He also shows the willingness to block for teammates and you cannot go wrong with that.

My prediction:
I am predicting Brown to have a huge year. He is one of my sleeper players and with his physical brand of football, he looks primed for a bigger role in the offense. Whether that is spelling one of the starters during a close game or during a blow-out, he will be ready when thrust into the game.

Corey Smith:
Smith stands at 6’1”, 195 lbs. and is at the tail end of his Buckeye career. As a Redshirt Senior and hailing from East Mississippi Community College, he took the long way back home. Smith is looking to finish his Buckeye career strong and he will be looking contribute more with this seasons team.

What he brings to the offense:
Smith always shows up on highlights making a bone crushing blocks on a hapless defender or the occasional big play or conversion. One that comes to mind is when he blocked an unaware defender during the BIG Ten Championship game. He had the position but was ejected from the game for targeting. He brings the grit when blocking for teammates and he is capable of catching passes during crunch time.

My prediction:
Smith will be one of the top options off the bench to spell the starters during games. He will build on his performance from last years playoffs. He may not be a full-fledged started, but he will show up in the post season film.

Jeff Greene:
Jeff Greene is a transfer from Georgia Tech. He is one of the biggest, if not the biggest Wide Receiver on the Ohio State roster. He can be a matchup nightmare if he get the chance, due to his 6’5” 220 frame. So think Noah Brown, but three inches taller. Yikes! He usually contributes during mop up duty, but that isn’t because he is a garbage player. He doesn’t get the stats because the Buckeyes are loaded at Wide Receiver and they will continue to be for years to come. Needless to say he is talented, but he hasn’t earned his opportunity yet.

What he brings to the offense:
Greene is massive! He has the height to fend off smaller DB’s and the ability to high point the ball. He has the frame and the strength to overpower defenders. He could move to Tight End if needed, but that won’t happen.

My prediction:
Greene will once again serve during mop up duty, when the games have already been decided. He will also play on Special Teams during Kickoffs and Punts. I hate to see young kids get buried in the depth chart, but hey Ohio State is a family. So, it really doesn’t matter to anyone.

The Redshirt Freshman:
The Buckeyes have depth at just about every position, especially Wide Receiver. They are loaded. The Buckeyes signed 3 true Wide Receiver in Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell. They are listed as 5’11”, 194, 6’1”, 200 and 6’1”, 205 respectively. Dixon is coming of a redshirt season due to injury and McLaurin and Campbell took theirs to get acclimated to college life. That accompanied with the depth at the position, they both took time to learn the playbook.

What they bring to the offense:
They all bring speed to the offense. Different variations of it! Dixon was a top tier Wide Receiver recruit coming out of Dwyer high school in Florida. He has high upside, but last year he suffered a season ending injury. He has the speed to break down defenders and he could be used like current Wide Receiver Corey Smith. McLaurin was one of the top recruits out of the state of Indiana. Coming out of Cathedral High School, he has a reputation of being a burner. Meyer may use him on kickoffs during mop up duty of like Devin Smith from a year ago. He has the game breaking speed that Meyer covets. And lastly, Campbell, who is a local product coming out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in nearby Akron, Ohio. He could also be moved around in the offense. He could also return kicks if need be. Barring any injuries, you never really know until we are put into that position. The common factor in these three studs is speed. A lot of speed!

My prediction:
With the abundance of Wide Receivers on the roster, I will look for these studs to get clean up duty. With Dixon coming off of an injury and with McLaurin and Campbell still becoming familiar with the playbook, I am looking for each to contribute on special teams mostly. There is also a chance that they may see the field if the team suffer an injury or multiple. Let’s hope not!

The True Freshman:
The Buckeyes signed two Wide Receivers during the last recruiting class. They are former North Little Rock High School signee, K.J. Hill and St. Edward High School’s Alex Stump. But wait! There is another name that had skipped my mind, Torrance Gibson. Yes! Torrance Gibson! The former American Heritage Quarterback in Florida. Hill shocked the nation by spurning the SEC and joining the Buckeyes 2015 recruiting class. He has highlights for days! Although I personally thought that he would end up with Bielema at Arkansas, I was mistaken. The other player is Alex Stump who the Buckeyes flipped. With Gibson, it was a never ending rumor that said that he was going to eventually sign with Auburn after a few visits. But the rich got richer with the signing. With Hill coming out of high school at 6’0” 195 lbs., Stump coming in at 6’3” 193 lbs. and Gibson entering the fray at 6’4” 205, they too are oozing with potential.

What they bring to the offense:
Hill brings the potential to become the number one receiver for the team. He reminds me of a smaller, DeVier Posey. He is smooth with his routes and he plays aggressively in all phases of the game. Stump runs routes just like Dane Sanzenbacher. Although he is bigger than Sanzenbacher, he could be a key piece in the offense in the future.
Gibson will join his idol and new found position mate Braxton Miller at Wide Receiver this year. He like Hill is looking to contribute during the upcoming season. At 6’4” and a position switch I can see Gibson as a taller Devin Smith.

My prediction:
Although the talented trio has the potential to become absolute monsters this year, I feel as if the Wide Receiver corps is crowded. I feel that they will get their chance this year, but it’ll be scarce. I foresee a Redshirt season for both Stump and Hill, but I could be wrong. They could show out in practice and earn their playing time. As for Gibson, he will be used in some capacity this season. I don’t know what it is but, it’s coming. There has been talk about his speed and I would assume that Meyer will utilize his speed on the field. That and he and Miller could learn their new craft together.

So in conclusion, here is prediction for the depth chart:

WR1: Thomas/Dixon/Clark/Greene
WR2: Brown/Smith/McLaurin/Gibson
H-Back: Miller/Marshall/Wilson/Campbell

Redshirt: Stump/Hill

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