New Faces at Receiver, Same Old Results

Coming into the 2015 season, receiver was one of the many positions that the Buckeyes seemed to be loaded with depth. Michael Thomas, Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall, and Dontre Wilson, all played a large roll for the Buckeyes on their way to the College Football Playoffs. Fast forward seven months to the start of fall camp and things are off to a blazing start with this group, right? Wrong! Three of the Buckeyes (Smith, Marshall, Wilson) were suspended for violating team rules and all of a sudden the receiver room looked like Old Mother Hubbard with nothing left in the cupboard. The unfortunate situation left the Buckeyes with Michael Thomas as the only receiver on the roster with a catch in a meaningful game. The good news is that help is on the way, maybe. Braxton Miller’s position change is going to provide the group with some much needed athleticism. Curtis Samuel’s permanent move to H is hopefully going to do more of the same. But what about the rest of the new faces? Miller and Samuel have played under the bright lights before. The Buckeyes have former four and five star players all over this position group that have never touched the field in a game. Is Blacksburg, Virginia, under the lights at Lane stadium, going to be too much? Could Parris Campbell show the same wheels on September 7th that he showed in the 2013 Ohio state championship game? Is Johnnie Dixon going to prove that his knees are fully recovered and play like the same top 100 recruit that Urban Meyer recruited him to be? Most of all, is it possible that Braxton Miller lost a step? Monday night, we got the answers to all these questions.

Braxton Miller:

Rushing: 6-62 1 TD
Receiving: 2-78 1 TD

We all know the Ohio State quarterback competition received a ridiculous amount of national attention over the last seven months. Most people, and rightfully so, were dying to know who was going to trot out for that first snap. What about the other quarterback though? The one who was a two time B1G player of the year? The one who was making his debut at a brand new position while on national television? Some people in their mid-twenties still have no idea what their calling in life is, and that is totally normal. Braxton Miller on the other hand, came out of the womb with a football in hand. Monday night he proved to the world that it doesn’t matter if he is throwing, catching or running, he just needs to be around a football and amazing things can happen. Any questions that I may have had about Braxton’s position switch were answered in full against Virginia Tech. Sure, he is going to have to keep working tirelessly on his route running, but that is something that he is going to need to do regardless until his NFL playing days are over. Braxton showed he can make a non- routine, in game catch when he went down and plucked the ball before it hit the turf for his first grab of the season. During the third quarter, he turned the safety around with a nice inside jab move on a corner route that led to another great grab on his way to a 54yd touchdown, his first of the season. I think we all had a feeling that we were going to see Braxton take a few direct snaps in this game and we were right. He had six carries on a mix of jet sweep touch passes, handoffs, and direct snaps. The most notable carry coming on a direct snap where he did the most Braxton Miller thing I’ve ever seen and took the carry down the left sideline before performing a spin move that isn’t even possible in Madden when the game is on easy mode, and you’re playing against the Browns. Needless to say, I think we were all very pleased with his performance, and his potential going forward at his new position.

Curtis Samuel:

Rushing: 1-10
Receiving: 2-32 1 TD

Curtis is another semi new face to the receiver position. He lined up in the slot last year a bit but was mostly in the backfield backing up Ezekiel Elliot. Curtis wasted no time at all in getting started at his new position. On the opening drive of the game, Cardale Jones was flushed from the pocket, and while rolling to his right, he tossed a bit of a line drive prayer to Curtis in the back of the end zone. Curtis, despite pass interference by a Virginia Tech defender, made an exceptional play on the ball for a 24yd score. Curtis added a carry for 10yds on a jet sweep touch pass. After watching this game and seeing how little Urban Meyer used the backup running backs behind Ezekiel Elliot, one would have to wonder if Curtis will eventually see some more time in the backfield, especially considering the buckeyes get three receivers back from suspension this week. However, I don’t think that is totally necessary because Curtis is every bit as talented as any of the receivers on this team. That is going to be a call that I’m happy Urban Meyer has to make and not me

Parris Campbell:

I remember coaching against Parris Campbell in a scrimmage just before his junior year of high school. We had heard so much about Dante Booker, who is going to be a stud linebacker for the buckeyes after Josh Perry graduates, and nothing about this skinny young running back named Parris Campbell. He let us know who he was real quick as he took a bubble screen about 60 yards for a touchdown on about the fifth play of the scrimmage. He ran sideline to sideline about four times just because he felt like it and then decided that he didn’t feel like running anymore and it was just time to run towards the end zone. Parris is also somewhat in the middle of a position switch. He played mostly running back in high school so this receiver stuff is new to him. He has freaky speed and while the bright lights may have gotten the best of him on his two dropped passes (one of which should have been reviewed because it wasn’t a drop) he had a fine night on the perimeter blocking down field which is something that Urban Meyer frankly stated as the only way you will play receiver at Ohio State. I look for Parris to rebound in these next few non-conference games and get some confidence back. The ceiling is very high for this kid.

Johnnie Dixon:

Receiving: 1-29

Dixon is another new face that screams potential. Johnnie missed the better part of last year due to tendinitis in both of his knees. He had surgery last year and came on pretty strong after spring practice and fall camp. He is another playmaker that blocked well on the perimeter Monday night, and had a nice catch on a broken play for 29 yards. It is going to be very hard to keep Johnnie on the bench after Corey Smith returns this week. Unless Corey has fixed his fumbling ways of last year, I still expect to see Johnnie more on the field than on the sideline, but this is again another decision that I’m glad I don’t have to make.

James Clark/ Terry Mclaurin:

These are two players that I was really hoping to get some offensive snaps in this game. James Clark has been injured for two straight years but his high school high highlight film is the closest I have seen to looking anything like Ted Ginn Jr from a pure speed standpoint. Terry is someone who was talked about highly during all of fall camp. Makes me wonder a little bit if the Buckeye coaches didn’t want to waste snaps on guys that they knew weren’t going to play a ton once the suspended players return to the team. Hopefully these next three games will allow for some of the younger guys at receiver to come in and get their feet wet a little.

Needless to say, the new faces at receiver for the Buckeyes showed up in a big way as a whole. Unlike last year when Virginia Tech stifled this group with tight man coverage, this group flat out found way to get open. We have Urban’s tireless recruiting and Braxton Miller doing Braxton Miller things to thank for that.

Comments

  1. Thanks Ray, look forward to reading more of your posts. Comments regarding Parris insightful. To me the best play of the game was Meyer going to Cardale Jones against the VT line, might have been a surprise to many but on second thought obviously brilliant for many reasons.

    • I was as shocked as most people when Cardale got the start. Urb knows what he is doing so in Urban I trust lol. As for Parrs, man was he fun to watch in high school and not fun at all to coach against.

Leave a Reply to Ray Casola Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: