LOOKING BACK: Really no reason to do this section, to be honest, because there's nothing we are going to see last year at Ohio State that will mean too much for this coming season. The passing scheme was terrible, first off, and that's why they were major coaching changes on this side of the football. The quarterback couldn't throw, and that's maybe because the offensive line couldn't pass block, but the wide receivers also couldn't get open, and compounded that problem by not catching the football consistently. Urban Meyer said this position was a "clown show" when he arrived. If that's true, then last season took the fun and games to a new low.
THE COACHING CHANGES: While wide receivers coach Zach Smith is back, his coaching is going to look a lot better under new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. The wide receivers are going to be asked to do more than just block on designed QB runs this season. The question of whether it was talent or coaching that led to last season's passing game failure is going to be answered pretty quickly. I believe in the talent of most of these wideouts, and have zero faith in the ability of Meyer/Warinner/Beck to implement a decent passing game, so I'm blaming the the offensive philosophy those three tried to run. I think Kevin Wilson makes Zach Smith a better position coach, which makes these wide receivers better football players.
THE INCOMING FRESHMEN: Trevon Grimes has as much talent as any freshman wideout in America, so he's a welcome addition. I have very high hopes for Jaylen Harris, but think he needs a redshirt year to get coached up and learn the position. Not sure what to think about Elijah Gardner and Brendon White, so let's put redshirts on them too for now.
THE RETURNING STARTERS: There will be no slack given to returning starters, seniors that have waited their turn, or players who got time last year. With a new philosophy being installed, all jobs are open. It's tough to say who can or cannot play based on last season's results, so let's assume everyone starts from scratch. My feeling is if any receiver showed anything at all in last year's mess, you must be pretty good, so let's go from there as the starting point.
THE SLOT RECEIVERS: And yes, there is definitely a place for the smaller, quicker receivers that play the slot in Wilson's offense, and Shane Wynn torching Ohio State comes to mind first. Two other guys come to mind for this spot that can be dynamic under Wilson's scheme, and that's K.J. Hill and Demario McCall. I think both of these guys had flashes last season that showed they have to be favorites to get on the field and get the football in space. Eric Glover-Williams is in the same mold, but can he catch up after playing defense the past two years? I would have these three at the forefront of the slot position.
THE OUTSIDE RECEIVERS: Why they raved about Binjimen Victor all year and said he should be playing, yet they NEVER played him is beyond me. Starting Victor wouldn't have exactly put Jerry Rice or Jordy Nelson on the bench. He looked good when he played, certainly better than what was out there most of the time. I'm guessing he starts this year. What about Parris Campbell? He was no better than average last year, and the hands are questionable. He played because of his blocking, but will that be enough in an offense that actually wants wide receivers to catch the football? I also believe in Austin Mack, and have to believe he gets his shot this year. Mack has too much size and skill to be dismissed in his second year. I'm not real high on either James Clark or Terry McLaurin, and they had better show something quickly this spring. Maybe Grimes forces his way into the lineup as a freshman? Or maybe Harris is further along than I think he is? Blocking will still be required of these guys, but you had better be able to get open and catch the football or you aren't playing. Wilson was not brought in to install a scheme that increases blocking roles for the wideouts, Bank That.
THE OUTLOOK: I think there is a lot of talent at wide receiver, and all of these guys were either four or five-star recruits for the most part. To me, Kevin Wilson is Chris Ash or Greg Schiano in terms of the upgrade over previous coaches, and his impact should be huge. That should make this group twice as productive, but of course a lot of that is dependent on the quarterback being much better and the offensive line being much better. And I also think Wilson and new quarterbacks coach Ryan Day can make a difference in everyone on offense being better. If Ohio State is going to have a real passing game in 2017, and they NEED one to be a national title threat, this group needs to take a leap forward. I think they can, and will do that.