Playmakers 2015: No. 9 Johnnie Dixon

Our attempt to identify the top playmakers on Ohio State's 2015 roster started yesterday with Parris Campbell, and moves on with redshirt freshman Johnnie Dixon today. The No. 151 player in the 2014 class checks in at No. 9 on our list.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer lives to find playmakers, and his hope is that the Buckeyes will run at least 10 deep this season when it comes to skill position players the OSU coaching staff trusts to make big things happen with the ball. With that in mind, the crew voted on the top 10 playmakers on the roster after spring ball and is profiling those players one-by-one.

No. 9: Johnnie Dixon
Position: WR/H
Jersey No.: 1
Height: 5-11
Weight: 194
Class: Redshirt freshman
High School: West Palm Beach (Fla.) William T. Dwyer
Rating:Four-star prospect in class of 2014
Career stats: Dixon had four rushing attempts for 20 yards against Kent State last season, but those were the only touches he would manage before tendinitis forced him to redshirt. Had 17 receptions for 366 yards and six touchdowns in Dwyer’s five-game run to the 2013 state title
Playmaking skills: Elite speed, hands, versatility

What They’re Saying: Johnnie Dixon has yet to play meaningful snaps for the Buckeyes, but that hasn’t stopped coaches from raving about the Florida native’s potential.

After enrolling early in January 2014, Dixon got his first game action with the Buckeyes leading 66-0 over Kent State with less than five minutes left in the game. He touched the ball four times, rushing for 20 yards, and was targeted on a deep ball as time expired.

The coaching staff shut down Dixon after that game, electing to help repair tendinitis and arthritis in his knees. At that point the conversation shifted from what Dixon can do on the field to when he will be able to play again.

“Even when they do rehab they are in the underwater treadmill running and getting their cardio in, they’re not just running on the treadmill, they are catching balls as they do it,” receivers coach Zach Smith said of his injured charges. “We have a very detailed plan for injured guys who can’t necessarily get the work in on the field. It’s a specialized rehab treatment for them.”

As he continues to rehabilitate his knees, the Buckeyes expect the unproven but electrifying wideout to be a factor on the field this fall.

Is he ready to start right now? No. Is he capable of getting ready? Absolutely.

“Johnnie has the skillset,” Smith said. “We see flashes every now and then, he’s just got to get healthy. He’s not ready, but I would hope he wouldn’t be ready because he went through spring and we really felt good about where he was at and then he was dinged up the rest of the fall. So he came back and started off real strong and then kind of got re-dinged.

“Our whole goal and mentality is to get him healthy. Get him to 100 percent and then let us get him ready. He’s going to be ready. He has everything there to go and be a guy that we can count on, it’s just we have to have him healthy to do that yet.”

At 5-11, 194 pounds, Dixon has been able to add strength without losing speed in his time in Columbus and he has a similar build to departing Ohio State receiver Devin Smith.

Replacing Smith has been a focal point for the Buckeyes this offseason as his dominating deep ball abilities made him one of their best playmakers a season ago. Dixon has drawn the attention of Cardale Jones, the quarterback who found Smith deep at the highest rate last season, as a possible replacement as a go-to deep ball threat.

“A lot of guys have the deep threat potential,” Jones said of the weapons at his disposal. “So far we’re just running around in shorts, but guys like Johnny Dixon and Parris Campbell and Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith. Four guys right there have that deep ball threat. It’s just all about who’s giving us the best chance to replace Devin.”

Dixon came to Ohio State with plenty of fanfare, the 30th ranked wide receiver in the country and was one of the first freshmen to have his black stripe removed after enrolling early in 2014. He said from the beginning that he was coming to Ohio State to make plays.

"I'm a playmaker," Dixon told Buckeye Sports Bulletin on media day in August. "Just all around, not just from an offensive standpoint but special teams also. That's a big part of getting on the field is special teams also. Hopefully I can fit right in and get some playing time."

Injuries prevented that from happening in his first season on campus, but assuming those knee ailments are behind them there is nothing to suggest he can’t cash in on that potential this fall.

No. 10: Parris Campbell

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