COLUMBUS — Ohio State has quite a bit to replace in the Zone 6 unit.
Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin all graduated and went to the NFL. Even with the losses, though, the Buckeyes are set to be loaded at wide receiver once again this season. Once the team’s second-leading receiver from a year ago, K.J. Hill, decided to return for his senior season, the Buckeyes were officially set to keep moving forward.
Of course, it helps to have the country’s second-ranked wide receiver in 2019’s recruiting cycle enroll early. It also helps that plenty of playmakers are still around to help new quarterback Justin Fields.
As part of Wide Receiver Week atÂ Lettermen Row, weâ€™re breaking down who is a lock for playing time, who may find time on the field and who can expect to watch from the sidelines.
Sure Ohio State starters
K.J. Hill, Sr.:Â The senior took a huge step last season. He totaled 67 catches for 856 yards and six touchdowns, good for second on a team loaded with talent at wide receiver. Now that Campbell, Dixon and McLaurin are in the NFL, the attention will shift to Hill to have another huge season and lead the Buckeyes in all aspects — and not only on the field. Ohio State can use him at receiver and H-back, making him the most versatile playmaker on offense.
Binjimen Victor, Sr.:Â In 33 games played, Victor has 12 touchdown catches. His 6-foot-4 frame has made him a red-zone threat in each of the last two seasons. That should continue this year. Victor’s big-play ability was showcased in the Buckeyes come-from-behind win over Penn State last season when he hauled in a tough catch and ran it for a touchdown.
Austin Mack, Sr.:Â Mack’s ability to block earned him playing time early in his career. But some drops last season forced some to question his progression. Now in his senior season and coming off a season-ending injury last year, Mack might have his best year yet. His 34 games of experience could be key a relatively young wide receiver room.
Chris Olave, Soph.:Â Olave burst onto the Ohio State scene in the first quarter of the Michigan game in November, and he continued to make plays in the Big Ten Championship Game. Now, Olave will be expected to fill a hole left by last year’s senior leaders. His success last season showed Ohio State fans what he’s capable of producing. It’s time for Olave to put up even bigger numbers.
In the mix
Jaelen Gill,Â RFr.:Â Gill is the only player on Ohio State’s roster who is listed as an H-back. Listed or not, Gill is on track to have a breakout second season for the Buckeyes. A Westerville product, Gill was a borderline 5-star prospect recruited as an all-purpose running back, but it was apparent the Buckeyes recruited him to be an H-back. Campbell thrived in that role in Ryan Day’s offense last season. This year, it might be Gill’s turn.
Garrett Wilson, Fr.:Â Wilson, one of the most highly anticipated receivers to ever come to the Buckeyes, will play in the fall. The question is going to be: How much? His combination of size, speed and ability to go up and catch the ball make him invaluable for the Buckeyes. It’ll be hard to keep the true freshman off the field.
C.J. Saunders, Sr.:Â The journeyman senior wide receiver played sparingly last year when there was a bevy of playmakers in front of him. Saunders has done everything in his control to earn playing time as a former walk-on due to his work ethic and leadership. Don’t dismiss this former walk-on from the rotation, because he’s in the middle of it all. He figures to be a playmaker on special teams and as a slot receiver for the Buckeyes.
Work to do
Jaylen Harris, Jr.:Â Harris has just four catches for 49 yards in two seasons with the Buckeyes, but he had a good spring and earned some praise from wide receiver coach Brian Hartline. Year Three could be a make-or-break year for Harris. If he can continue to make plays in practice, he might find himself on the field in the fall.
Jameson Williams, Fr.:Â Williams is a blazing fast 2019 signee who didn’t enroll early. He likely won’t find a role this season, but could be a contributor in the future.
Elijah Gardiner, RSoph.: Gardiner is going to have a tough time carving out a role with all the talent ahead of him.
Kamryn Babb, RFr.:Â Babb tore his ACL weeks after arriving to campus last June. After rehabbing and fighting to return for 2019, Babb tore it again, likely ending another season before it even started.