Ohio State has 12 receivers on its roster that were all rated as four or five stars by Scout.com that have yet to tally five starts individually and in most cases, they have recorded none. With so many wide receivers yet to record a start, we are breaking up the wide receivers portion of ‘Next Man Up’ into two parts. We started with players from the 2013-2014 recruiting classes yesterday and continue with the 2015-16 classes today.
While these players are young, they're very talented and many are expected to push the older members of the position group for playing time this fall.
"You have to wake up every day and starve to be a great player," wide receiver coach Zach Smith said of his young talent. "That's something I was trying to get instilled in the room and Michael Thomas took it to another level and now it's the standard and for the most part they're all trying to live like that. It's more about when a young kid can buy into a grown man lifestyle. It's going to happen for them all eventually. It's a matter of how much resistance."
None of the three receivers who came to Ohio State as members of the 2015 recruiting class saw the field for the Buckeyes last season, but all three are being looked at as potential contributors in 2016.
Torrance Gibson may be the one player, let alone receiver, on Ohio State's roster that has drawn the most offseason buzz. He arrived at Ohio State as a quarterback, but his immense athletic gifts combined with the glut of talented signal-callers the Buckeyes had resulted in a position shift for Gibson. As the highest ranked player in Ohio State's 2015 class (No. 52 overall), Gibson seems like a perfect fit at wide receiver and the 6-4, 205-pound converted quarterback was taking first team reps with the Buckeyes this spring with Noah Brown and Corey Smith injured.
Like Gibson, K.J. Hill didn't see the field in 2015, though Meyer consistently said he was close to getting snaps and at one point said he would get into a game in 2015. That didn't come to fruition last season, but assuming he can overcome a hand injury that limited him this spring that will change in 2016. Hill still took part in some spring drills with a wrapped hand, routinely making one-handed grabs during practice sessions open to the media and even hauling one in during the spring game. Ohio State fans are surely anxious to see what the former four-star recruit can do with both hands at his disposal.
A bit of a forgotten man in the receiver room, Alex Stump was actually the highest ranked receiver in the 2015 class (when Gibson was still classified as a quarterback). The 6-2, 202-pound redshirt freshman has the size and skillset to contribute for the Buckeyes this season, but will face a stiff test in a room loaded with talent.
The 2016 class matches the 2015 crop in four-star receivers with three players looking to see the field in their first season in Columbus. Meyer has routinely said that he needs to get talented players on the field as freshmen, but his recent history suggests that one or more of these true freshmen might redshirt this season.
An early enrollee, Austin Mack began turning heads early in his Ohio State career. He split time with Gibson as a starter this spring, though that was in part due to injuries. Mack was the No. 48 overall player in the 2016 class and is the highest ranked pass catcher in Ohio State's class.
"I've never had a freshman performs like that, no one expected that, but I expected him to become a great player, and he's not yet, but he's probably a little further ahead than I would have anticipated him being for sure," Smith said.
Another highly ranked player, Demario McCall is expected to bring versatility to the position group when he joins the team. A shifty athlete at 5-11, 170, McCall appears to be the perfect prototype for the H position in Meyer's offense. He has speed to burn and if he doesn't see the field offensively this season could be an asset on special teams.
The biggest of the 2016 receivers, Binjinmen Victor comes to Ohio State as the No. 66 overall player in his class and 10th-ranked wide receiver. At 6-5 he is expected to offer a big target, but will need to add weight to contribute for the Buckeyes early.