“We came out here with a chip on our shoulder this spring, knowing we had to improve after the past years and not having the successful seasons that we wanted. We knew we had to take a big step, and I think this spring that’s what we’re doing.”
It’s no secret that Ohio State’s passing game was considered sub par last season. Between the inconsistency of quarterback J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes wide receivers, the deep ball was one of the crucial weak spots in the offense and it showed against Clemson in the College Football Playoff. Now, with Barrett returning for 2017, it’s up to the wide receivers on the team this spring to turn the corner for the upcoming season. The depth at the position is arguably there, with Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin, Austin Mack and more, there’s reason for optimism if you’re Ohio State.
Still, a lot of these players were on the roster last season and couldn’t produce like many thought they would or should. With that said, Campbell and the rest of the receiving core is doing everything they can this spring to prepare themselves for the season and make sure they’re at the top of their game. In the article above, Campbell mentions the extra steps being taken to progress the receiving game including staying on the field practicing with the quarterbacks on the deep ball. The spring game is right around the corner and could be a great look into how the receivers are improving and if Ohio State fans can expect a stronger unit this fall.
“[Mock Draft] 3. Chicago Bears: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State. 5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams): CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State. 13. Arizona Cardinals: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State.”
Three of Ohio State’s prospects are seemingly sure-fire first round picks in the upcoming NFL draft. Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, and Gareon Conley have all been projected in many mock drafts as being locks in the first round. This latest mock draft from Danny Kelly of The Ringer has Conley being taken with the third overall pick, which is personally the highest I’ve seen him. Lattimore gets taken at fifth to the Titans, while Hooker gets drafted 13th overall to the Cardinals. While that is the lowest I’ve seen Hooker as well, the fit would be excellent for him as a rookie playing alongside outstanding players such as Tyrann Mathieu.
Regardless, it’s a testament to the talent level that resided in Ohio State’s secondary last season that the Buckeyes are essentially about to give three top picks in the NFL draft. Those three players were crucial to Ohio State’s defensive schemes last season and a large reason why they were able to make a run to the College Football Playoff.
“They all want, they all think they're going to, but some kids come in and can't seem to feel the speed of the game at this level, they can't learn the offense as fast, for whatever reason. We're going to have to see where he's at.”
There’s another name in the Ohio State receiving game that hasn’t been taken much into consideration. Trevon Grimes is still rehabbing from tearing his ACL during his high school days, but the former five-star has the skill to be a key playmaker for the Buckeyes should he get healthy. While it’s not known if he’ll be able to come back and be the same player that he was before, all signs point to Grimes making a speedy recovery and could potentially have a stronger knee to show for it, according to some of his doctors.
With Grimes recently tweeting out that he’s started sprinting on the knee again, it seems like the young wide receiver is well on his way to getting back to 100 percent again. And that could prove huge for Ohio State as the Buckeyes try to make a leap in the passing game. There’s a lot of hope that he can be a dynamic player for Ohio State at wide receiver but to do that, he’ll need to be healthy. Still, wide receivers coach Zach Smith is excited about the potential that Grimes shows.