Spreading the wealth at wide receiver

Nick McWilliams, Staff Writer
Buckeye Grove

USA Today Sports Images

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell had one of his best games as a Buckeye, but he still trailed one teammate on the statsheet — walk-on C.J. Saunders. Campbell and Saunders yards and scores were almost identical, with each getting 105 yards and 102 yards and a score, respectively.

In all, nine different receivers caught a pass for Ohio State, six of which caught hauling in a score. To put it simply, the Buckeyes wide receivers finally showed some signs of life after being criticized for not getting open.

Campbell scored on the second offensive play from scrimmage for Ohio State, scampering 69 yards for a score behind a solid edge block from Austin Mack. Other than the 82-yard free-kick return for Campbell, that pass turned out to be the longest play of the day.

"I gotta give credit to my teammates on that play, specifically I had Austin Mack on the perimeter," Campbell said. "Got a nice block. But, my anticipation whenever I catch a ball is take it to the house every time. I think anticipation with that helps a lot."

J.T. Barrett was replaced with 3:32 remaining in the second because of the massive lead Ohio State had jumped out to, but in his short time playing, connected with five different receivers for touchdowns. It was a welcome sight for fans who had been wondering where the dynamic freshman who led the Buckeyes so far had gone.

Barrett is probably not going to put up the same numbers from that year, but that one game spring boarded him forward quite a bit. He said it was more than just the scores that make Saturday a productive game.

"Not just touchdowns, but seeing guys get touches like everyone was excited when C.J. got into the game and he had a touchdown. Everybody was just excited for one another. That’s, I think, a good thing, getting guys to gel together in that receiver room and also two tight ends getting some love. Everybody, feeding off one another with the energy and emotion."


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Saunders is a relatively small receiver, listed at just 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds, although he swears he is actually 178 pounds right now. His catch marked his first career touchdown, along with Dwayne Haskins.

Haskins connected with Saunders from 28 yards out on an absolute strike.

"It was a concept where the outside (receiver) has the ability to go deep or hook it up, and I have a work route," Saunders said. "So I can kind of do whatever I want in there. I saw the safeties go two high, so the middle was open and I kept it skinny, and Dwayne threw an amazing ball."

The seven total touchdowns to seven different receivers were the most in Ohio State history, and six of those scores were to wide receivers. The numbers might seem a bit tainted, however, due to UNLV being a less than stellar opponent.

Campbell said the confidence moving forward will be huge, regardless of who is the opponent. On top of that, he also said the Barrett that fans saw in the first half could be a common look after such a successful game.

"I know you guys aren't at practice, but, J.T. ... he's on another level of confidence with us right now," Campbell said. "He tells us every day. I just think the group we have right now, if we keep pushing, keep fighting, making strides, then we can be one of the best groups, for sure."

Maybe Ohio State goes to the Air-Raid offense now?

Doubtful, but things are looking up in the passing game.

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