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2016 OSU Spring Positional Recap: Receivers and Tight Ends
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — The story of the spring for the Buckeye receivers, H-backs and tight ends was more about who wasn't available than who was and how they played.

Injuries knocked out the top four receivers for Ohio State, and a lack of depth at tight end drew some of the focus toward the three future freshmen tight ends who will arrive in the fall, rather than two tight ends who were actually taking reps.

It was a fairly disjointed spring for the Buckeye receivers, but it certainly allowed the players one notch lower on the depth chart to get some very necessary work all camp long.

Starters Returning: None.

Others Returning: Torrance Gibson (6-4 205, rFr); K.J. Hill (6-0 195, rFr); Terry McLaurin (6-1 200, rSo); Corey Smith (6-1 195, 6th); Alex Stump (6-3 202, rFr); A.J. Alexander (TE) (6-2 235, rFr); Dontre Wilson (HB) (5-10 195, Sr); Curtis Samuel (HB) (5-11 200, Jr); Johnnie Dixon (5-11 194, rSo); Parris Campbell (6-1 205, rSo); Noah Brown (6-2 222, rSo); James Clark (5-10 185, rJr); Marcus Baugh (6-5 255, rJr)

Where to begin? Projected starters Noah Brown and Curtis Samuel were held out all spring long, as was possible starter Corey Smith. H-back Dontre Wilson also missed most of spring dealing with an injury. Urban Meyer called them the top four receivers on the team, and none of them were able to go this spring.

That did, however, leave opportunities for everybody else. Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin shined in the spring game, and Torrance Gibson didn't do too badly either with his two touchdowns. K.J. Hill did quite a bit despite playing with a cast on his hand and wrist all spring long.

"I think it's very important," McLaurin said of having a big spring game. "Coach Meyer talked about this being the biggest game of our lives. He wanted to see how we came out here and competed in front of 100,000, the first team ever to do that in a spring game, so it was huge not only as individuals but as a unit.

"We wanted to go out whether we were Scarlet or Gray, we just wanted to make plays. I feel like Joe did a great job of putting my team in a position to make plays and we just wanted to go out there and make the plays. I feel like we did.  We did some great things this spring and I feel like this was the cherry on top. We have some things we want to get better on, we're going to watch the film."

Arguably the best news was that Johnnie Dixon and James Clark showed no ill effects from their past injuries, and both performed well. Dixon wasn't pushed too hard, however, in that they tried to limit the type of routes that he would run throughout practices in order to go easy on his knees.

All in all, plenty of reps were given to the players who needed them most.

"I think the growth in Torrance Gibson is ridiculous," cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said. "I think he’s really developing. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s really tall, really fast and really physical. And I think Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell and James Clark have shown tremendous improvement this year. This is a great thing for them, that those other guys aren’t out there playing right now. It is great and it is a war every day. So they are really coming."

At H-back, the Buckeyes were without their top two slot options, which forced them to use other players in that role. Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill both got time in the slot, and Campbell responded in the spring game. Where those two players will be during the season is still up in the air, but their versatility will certainly be welcomed.

And even though Samuel was unavailable due to his foot injury, he is full of expectations for this coming season once he is finally healthy.

"It’s definitely going to help me out because last year I was running around with a messed up foot and it’s just been bothering me," he said. "I felt like I couldn’t come out of my breaks, I couldn’t cut as well as I wanted to. I was running fast, but it was just the pain was still there. I feel like I’m going to be much better now and I’m going to be ready for it. You haven’t seen much yet. You just gotta wait. Ya’ll gonna see."

The tight end position featured just two scholarship tight ends in Marcus Baugh and A.J. Alexander. Tight ends coach and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner believes that Baugh is ready to have a big season for the Buckeyes, and since he's the one calling the plays, he should know. Baugh has continued to round himself into a complete tight end.

"One of our goals in spring was to re-establish who our playmakers are and find out who the new ones are and then find how to get them the ball," Warinner said this spring. "So if you were a playmaker, you’ve got to re-establish that. If you’re weren’t a playmaker, become one to get the ball, and then we’ve got to make sure we have schemes to do that. I think Marcus can be a playmaker for us. I’ve seen that."

Newcomers: Austin Mack (6-2 210, Fr); Binjimen Victor (6-4 173, Fr); Jake Hausmann (TE) (6-5 240, Fr); Luke Farrell (TE) (6-6 244, Fr); Kierre Hawkins (TE) (6-4 225, Fr); Demario McCall (HB) (5-11 180, Fr)

Austin Mack was the only freshman here enrolled in January and so he was allowed to take part in spring practice. He did so well that he was running with the ones at the X receiver spot before too long. Mack came to Ohio State as one of the top high school receivers in the nation, and his performance throughout the spring lived up to the hype.

He ended up losing his black stripe after just six practices.

"I think it’s great and I think it’s a testament to his training before he got here too," running backs coach Tony Alford said this spring. "His family, his coaches he was training with before he got here, and then obviously the training that’s been taking place with Coach Mick and his staff in the offseason and winter conditioning. He’s a hungry guy and some kids in that room are obviously leading him, so I think it’s good for other young players to see that and think, ‘Wow, that’s a possibility for me too. I’ve just got to go.

"He just plays hard and he plays fast. He’s hungry. He’s not taking plays off. Even if he’s wrong he goes 100 miles per hour. We can fix the mistake. The effort stuff, that’s from within. He goes. He goes."

Depth Chart

X
Noah Brown (6-2 222, rSo)
Austin Mack (6-2 210, Fr) OR
Torrance Gibson (6-4 205, rFr)
Alex Stump (6-3 202, rFr)

Z
Parris Campbell (6-1 205, rSo) OR
Corey Smith (6-1 195, 6th) OR
Terry McLaurin (6-1 200, rSo)
Johnnie Dixon (5-11 194, rSo) OR
K.J. Hill (6-0 195, rFr) OR
James Clark (5-10 185, rJr)

H
Curtis Samuel (5-11 200, Jr)
Dontre Wilson (5-10 195, Sr)

TE
Marcus Baugh (6-5 255, rJr)
A.J. Alexander (6-2 235, rFr)

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