5 Things To Know: Redshirt Freshman WRs

With suspensions and injuries removing four players from the wide receiver pool, here are five things to know about Ohio State's trio of redshirt freshman wide receivers -- Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin.

With Ohio State's season opener only days away, the battle for playing time at wide receiver has drawn plenty of attention. Three of the prime candidates to see a majority of the snaps – Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin – are all redshirt freshmen.

Here are five things Buckeye fans should know about the trio heading into the trip to Virginia Tech.

1. They can play
The recruiting ratings of all three players would have told you as much, as Campbell (No. 85), Dixon (No. 151) and McLaurin (No. 230) were all four-star athletes who ranked among the top 300 prospects of the class of 2014.

But even their time at Ohio State has shown that their coaches and teammates believe they could be headed for big things. Dixon was deemed good enough to see the field as a true freshman in 2014, which he did until tendinitis in his knees cut his season short and forced a medical redshirt.

Campbell and McLaurin took longer to develop and redshirted, but by the end of the season the two true freshmen had caught the eye of their teammates in practice.

“Parris and Terry are killing it on the scout team,” quarterback Stephen Collier told BuckeyeSports.com prior to the Sugar Bowl. “We’ve all got to grow a little bit, but once they get there it’s going to be unreal.”

Four months later, both players caught a touchdown pass from Collier in the spring game.

2. Dixon should be good to go
After missing most of his true freshman season due to knee surgery, Dixon should be good to go against Virginia Tech on Monday. The Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer product was described by head coach Urban Meyer as “full go” on Wednesday, which echoed previous camp statements that he expected to be able to unleash Dixon against the Hokies.

“We've just got to monitor him,” Meyer said. “He's got those darn knee issues. They're not major, it's just tendinitis, and I expect him to be full speed. He's had a very good camp.”

3. Blocking is important
Meyer is now without Evan Spencer, the 2014 team MVP and the player he considered to be the best blocking wide receiver he’s ever coached. Being able to replicate that skill to some degree is a must for players who want to see the field, and right now Campbell is standing out in that regard.

“It’s absolutely imperative that they’re very good perimeter blockers,” Meyer said. “A guy that’s really good is a guy named Parris Campbell. He’s really coming on as far as a guy that can set the point out there. He’s a bigger, stronger guy. That’s absolutely essential in our offensive because we play a lot of horizontal football.”

4. The path to the field also involves special teams
It’s no secret that Meyer wants his players to earn their offensive snaps by contributing to special teams, and both McLaurin and Campbell appear primed to help themselves in that aspect.

“Right now I have Parris and Terry starting at special teams, and obviously you know how we feel at those positions,” Meyer said.

5. The receiver rotation will likely have a "by committee" feel to it
Eleven Warriors reported on Friday afternoon that Campbell appears to be in line to start opposite Michael Thomas, and that’s certainly a boon for the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary product. It’s not, however, the end of the world for Dixon and McLaurin, who both figure to get their share of playing time, as well.

“There's a whole group of those guys with Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin that are all going to have roles early on in the season and roles in this game,” offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. “All those guys have been getting reps out there at practice.”


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