Nine Units Strong: Ohio State Wide Receivers

The Ohio State wide receivers already had playmakers like Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall in the fold, but their ability to torment opposing defenses should increase with the additions of Braxton Miller and Torrance Gibson.

OUTLOOK

As if Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith didn’t have enough talent to work with, he’s now been handed a pair of quarterbacks who double as two of the most athletic and explosive players in the country relative to their peers.

The more famous of those is of course Braxton Miller, the two-time conference player of the year who ceded his spot in the Great Quarterback Battle of 2015 to instead line up as an H. And then there is Torrance Gibson, the heralded recruit who came in as a signal caller but who recruiting analysts think could have been a five-star prospect had he been evaluated at the wide receiver spot he will occupy this fall.

This is of course to say nothing of the talent that Ohio State returns, including 2014 leading receiver Michael Thomas, who caught nine touchdown passes last season and served as a critical playmaker in some of the biggest games of the season. There’s also talented senior Corey Smith, sophomore Noah Brown, who received the lion’s share of praise this spring as the team’s most improved player, and redshirt freshman Johnnie Dixon, whose freshman campaign was cut short by knee problems.

At the hybrid spot, Miller will be joined by sophomore Jalin Marshall, junior Dontre Wilson and sophomore Curtis Samuel, who joins Miller and Gibson as newcomers to the position room after spending time at running back in 2014.

“We have a very, very, very diverse set of players,” Smith said. “There’s guys with skills sets like we’ve talked about Torrance. We talked about Braxton. We talked about Jalin, Curtis.

“There’s guys who can do multiple things so it’s more a matter of how do we get them involved and how are they featured in this offense, not who’s room they meet in or are they a wideout.”

Smith’s challenge will be to put together those puzzle pieces in a way that leads to the most effective and efficient offense. It won’t be easy, and it may have to wait thanks to the one-game suspensions of Marshall, Wilson and Corey Smith. The good news is this: Ohio State will have to decide on how to utilize more than a dozen talented players at the wide receiver and H spots, but it sure beats the alternative of having to do so with players who can’t get the job done.

DEPTH CHART

Wide Receiver

Awaiting Image
Mike Thomas
6'3" / 210 / RJr.
  • WR
  • 3

Notes

Well, there’s no questioning who the most proven receiver on the team is. After redshirting in 2013, Thomas was a force to be reckoned with during Ohio State’s national championship season. He led the Buckeyes with 799 receiving yards and hauled in nine touchdowns. His touchdown catch in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama was one of the most impressive plays of the season, and he’ll be back for more in 2015.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
Corey Smith
6'1" / 195 / RSr.
  • WR
  • 84

Notes

Smith was a contender to help replace the production vacated by Devin Smith and Evan Spencer – and he still will be – but his suspension for the Virginia Tech game won’t help him rise to the top of a competitive position group. There’s no denying his talent, though, and Smith could be in for a big year this season.

Player Profile

Wide Receiver

Awaiting Image
Noah Brown
6'2" / 222 / So.
  • WR
  • 80

Notes

Brown saw modest playing time as a true freshman in 2014, but he emerged in the spring of 2015 as a favorite of the Ohio State coaching staff. He’s down more than 20 pounds and has switched from “H” to wide receiver, where he figures to earn some significant playing time this season.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
Johnnie Dixon
5'11" / 194 / RFr.
  • WR
  • 5

Notes

Dixon didn’t record a catch in 2014, but he did carry the ball four times before being shelved for the season to have surgery on his knees. He was one of the jewels of the class of 2014, and a healthy Dixon could become one of the most potent offensive weapons on the team.

Player Profile

Hybrid

Awaiting Image
Jalin Marshall
5'11" / 205 / RSo.
  • H
  • 17

Notes

He won’t play against Virginia Tech because of a suspension, but don’t expect Marshall to be forgotten about when he returns. The sophomore rushed for 145 yards and had 499 receiving yards in 2014 as a redshirt freshman, and his four-touchdown game against Indiana was one of the best performances of the season.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
Braxton Miller
6'2" / 215 / RSr.
  • H
  • 1

Notes

The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year will be switching positions, but don’t expect his impact to be diminished. Miller spent the summer going through night workouts at the indoor facility with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, and it’s a safe bet that Urban Meyer will find ways to get him the ball as much as possible. The thought of Miller on the other end of jet sweeps should be giving defensive coordinators nightmares all season.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
Dontre Wilson
5'10" / 195 / Jr.
  • H
  • 2

Notes

After struggling to make an impact in 2013 and then battling injuries and getting passed by Jalin Marshall in 2014, Wilson was probably one of the players on the team who could least afford a suspension. Alas, here we are. Wilson still has the potential and ability to be productive in this offense – his catch vs. Virginia Tech is a good example – but it’s time for him to show that consistently or risk being passed up for good.

Player Profile

ALSO IN THE MIX

Awaiting Image
Curtis Samuel
5'11" / 200 / So.
  • H
  • 4

Notes

Samuel lined up at running back as a true freshman in 2014, but he’s spent all of 2015 in the wide receivers room. The Buckeyes plan to try him out at “H” and he appears to be a prime candidate to make an impact given his versatility. Although he toiled behind Ezekiel Elliott in 2014, the two touchdowns he scored in the Big Ten title game as a true freshman should be a sign of things to come from Samuel.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
Torrance Gibson
6'4" / 205 / Fr.
  • WR
  • 6

Notes

The hype machine is in full effect now that Gibson has announced he intends to play as a wide receiver in 2015, and rightfully so. He’s a five-star prospect from an athleticism standpoint, and recruiting analysts believe he could one day be a first-round NFL Draft pick if he sticks at receiver. He will play meaningful snaps this season and contribute in a noticeable way.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
James Clark
5'10" / 185 / RSo.
  • WR
  • 82

Notes

Clark got onto the field as a true freshman until an ankle injury against Florida A&M ended his season. His redshirt freshman season wasn’t much better, with hamstring trouble keeping him sidelined for all but three games. Finally looking healthy, Clark has reportedly been excelling in practice and could show this season why he was such a highly touted recruit.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
K.J. Hill
6'0" / 195 / Fr.
  • WR
  • 14

Notes

Hill was one of the last commits in the class of 2015 but one of the first players to get his black stripe removed. Ohio State has shown in the past that true freshman receivers can see meaningful playing time, and the explosive athlete from Arkansas is this year’s best candidate to fit that mold.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
Parris Campbell
6'1" / 205 / RFr.
  • WR
  • 21

Notes

Campbell, a product of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, redshirted as a true freshman in 2014, but that probably had more to do with the fact that he had just turned 17 than any lack of ability. By the time the postseason rolled around, teammates said he was putting on shows in practices. He’ll have to fight several proven, talented players for snaps this season, but look for Campbell to make the most of what he gets.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
Terry McLaurin
6'1" / 200 / RFr.
  • WR
  • 83

Notes

Outside of the incoming freshmen, McLaurin has the distinction of being the only wide receiver on the roster to never play a game at Ohio State. That hasn’t stopped him from getting shoutouts from both Urban Meyer and Zach Smith for his play this spring. He’ll get a chance this season to justify their praise for him.

Player Profile

Awaiting Image
Jeff Greene
6'5" / 220 / RSr.
  • WR
  • 89

Notes

Greene, a Georgia Tech transfer, was primarily a factor on special teams in 2014 after sitting out the 2013 season. The walk-on did catch a pass against Illinois, but that was the extent of his production from scrimmage last season.

Player Profile

*Walk-on

Awaiting Image
Alex Stump
6'3" / 202 / Fr.
  • WR
  • 87

Notes

Stump tore his ACL last fall during his senior season of high school, but he’s good to go and fully practicing in his first season in Columbus. The Lakewood St. Edwards product is one of the fastest players on the team, and if he can get on special teams this season he’ll have a chance to see some snaps from scrimmage as well.

Player Profile


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