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Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill is relishing once in a lifetime opportunity

Just 50 receptions away from Ohio State’s receptions record, K.J. Hill returns for his senior season to finish out his career both on the field and in the classroom.

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NCAA Football: Ohio State at Texas Christian Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

“I really came back because I wanted to make sure I did everything I could. I only get this chance once in a lifetime. I just wanted to finish it out, do everything I can in school and on the field.”

Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill via Tony Gerdeman, The Ozone

With wide receivers Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, and Johnnie Dixon having graduated, K.J. Hill is now officially the leader of Ohio State’s wide receivers. Hill could have joined the trio by deciding to forego his final season and enter the NFL Draft, but the wide receiver still feels like he has some unfinished business with the Buckeyes.

Not only is Hill just 50 receptions away from Ohio State’s all-time receptions record, which is currently held by David Boston, but he knows he has some work to do to make him more of an NFL-ready wide receiver. Hill now gets another season to work with wide receivers coach Brian Hartline, who knows what it takes to succeed at the professional level.

With the tutelage of Hartline, Hill can work on improving his route-running and seeing defenses better. Along with working at his craft on the field, Hill will also be counted on to show some of Ohio State’s younger wide receivers the ropes. Hill saw how Campbell, Dixon, and McLaurin took to a leadership role last year and will be the next Buckeye wideout to lead. With talented quarterback Justin Fields looking to target Hill early and often in 2019, it should be a fun final season in Columbus for the wide receiver from Arkansas.

“Last year I watched film, but this year I’m really taking the initiative and going in every day after practice to watch film. Im making sure my technique is right and making sure that I can see plays before they happen so I can play faster.”

Ohio State defensive end Tyreke Smith via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

Despite being a true freshman, defensive end Tyreke Smith was able to find his way into 11 games last season. With no sacks and just nine tackles, Smith’s numbers weren’t eye-popping, but his performances were enough to set the table for what could be a promising career in the scarlet and gray.

Now that Smith got some valuable experience on the field in his first season at Ohio State, the defensive end is looking to make a big impact in 2019. Smith has spent plenty of time watching film with defensive line coach Larry Johnson to see which areas he could improve on. One major change that Johnson has noticed is Smith’s hips were too low in his pre-snap stance, which limited his explosiveness.

Along with improving his technique, Smith is also working to diagnose plays better. As Smith gets more comfortable with the looks opposing offenses are throwing at him, he’ll be able to see plays before they happen and use his explosiveness to get into the backfield quicker.

Even though Smith has already made tremendous strides in a short time at Ohio State, Johnson isn’t heaping on the praise quite yet. Smith has all the tools to be a force at Ohio State, now it is just putting all the pieces together. With Jonathon Cooper, Chase Young, and a number of other talented defensive ends on the roster, snaps will have to be earned. Smith has already gotten a taste of what it’s like to be on the field for Ohio State, and now he is working to ensure he earns more playing time for the Buckeyes.

“I’m just a guy who gives it his all. It’s not going to be right all the time and I’m going to have some mistakes, but I’m going to give it my all. I’d say I’m improving in the pass game and becoming more dominant in the run game.”

Ohio State offensive lineman Gavin Cupp via Dave Biddle, Bucknuts

Offensive lineman Gavin Cupp’s Ohio State career has been more noteworthy for what happened before he signed his letter of intent. Cupp originally committed to Michigan State, but his dream was to play for the Buckeyes.

In the summer of 2015, Cupp was invited to Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp. While attending the camp seemed like it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, it was for Mark Dantonio and Michigan State, who had a rule that if a player visited another program without their permission, their scholarship offer would be pulled.

Even though the risk for Cupp was huge, as he didn’t have a scholarship offer from Ohio State at the time, he had the confidence that he would be able to impress the Ohio State coaching staff enough to eventually earn one. Cupp’s gamble paid off, as he was offered a scholarship by the Buckeyes, which he accepted almost immediately.

Since Cupp has committed to Ohio State, he hasn’t been able to make an impact for the Buckeyes. Things could be changing for the Leipsic product, as he is seeing time with the first-team offense at left guard during spring practices. It’s likely that Cupp’s spot with the first-team is only temporary with Rutgers graduate transfer Jonah Jackson arriving in Columbus in June, but Cupp is making the most of the reps he is receiving now.

Even if Jackson ends up earning the starting left guard spot, the experience Cupp is gaining now is invaluable. Cupp has the right attitude when it comes to what he has to offer. Even if he doesn’t see the field as much as he would like to, he is still living his dream by earning a scholarship to Ohio State.

“I still remember coming in and playing in my first game at St. John like it was yesterday. I’m just trying to make the best of it and focus on getting some ‘W’s’ and getting some momentum heading into the conference tournament.”

Ohio State men’s volleyball setter Sanil Thomas via Caleb Ewing, The Lantern

Ohio State’s men’s volleyball hasn’t seen nearly as much success this year as they have in the last few years, but the Buckeyes still have plenty to play for this weekend when they play their final games at St. John Arena. Before moving to the Covelli Center next season, Ohio State will close out their 2019 home campaign with matchups against Purdue Fort Wayne and Ball State.

Along with their final games at St. John Arena, Ohio State has a chance to play spoiler this weekend. Purdue Fort Wayne comes into tonight’s matchup ranked 13th in the country. After taking on the Mastodons, Ohio State will close up their regular season by hosting Ball State, who needs wins against McKendree tonight and the Buckeyes on Saturday to clinch the fourth seed in the MIVA Conference Tournament.

Not only will Ohio State be saying goodbye to St. John Arena this weekend, but they also will see four seniors play in their final home game. Liberos Chase Moothart and Aaron Samarin, middle blocker Blake Leeson and setter Sanil Thomas will all be playing their final home game for the Buckeyes. In a season that has seen little go right, sending the seniors and St. John Arena out with a couple wins would be the high point.