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Ohio State Quarterback J.T. Barrett Breaks Down the Buckeye Wide Receivers
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — The Buckeyes have three former receivers getting ready to perform at the NFL Combine this weekend, and that follows the two — Devin Smith and Evan Spencer — who were there doing the same just a year ago.

Losing five NFL receivers over the span of two seasons is a hit that most teams cannot handle, but this is the reality that Ohio State is facing in 2016.

The remaining receiving roster that enters spring practice next month caught a total of 35 passes last season, which was one fewer than Jalin Marshall, who finished second on the team in 2015 with 36 receptions.

Of those 35 receptions, only six were by an outside receiver, as H-backs Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson combined for 29 receptions a year ago. Corey Smith's five catches and Johnnie Dixon's one are the entirety of the returning receptions from OSU's outside receivers.

Despite the lack of catches by a young group of pass catchers, there is still plenty of excitement in the amount of talent that the Buckeyes can put out past the hash marks this season.

And it's always good when the quarterback is one of those people excited about the possibilities.

"I think as far as young guys we have Terry McLaurin, Torrance Gibson, K. J. (Hill), Noah (Brown) is getting back from injury, I think a lot of people forgot about Noah Brown," J.T. Barrett said recently.

"I don’t know if he’s going to be able to participate in spring ball. Corey Smith is back and that’s a guy that I love throwing to because I feel he’s a true wide receiver. So having those guys back, I think those guys will be back more this summer, but I’m excited about all those guys."

Brown broke his leg in fall camp last August after being one of the rising stars on the team in the spring and summer. He's on his way back now, which is a surprise to absolutely no one. Brown isn't all the way back just yet, but he is on track.

"Noah is doing stuff on the side, same as Corey," Barrett said. "I think he said during spring ball he’d be able to sprint full speed in a straight line, but I don’t know about cutting yet. I talked to him about that."

It wasn't just Brown and Smith who missed time last year due to injuries, as redshirt freshman Johnnie Dixon missed the bulk of a season for the second time in two years while dealing with a pair of high maintenance knees.

Like Brown and Smith, Dixon is on the mend.

"I don’t know what was holding him back during the year," Barrett said. "I wasn’t talking to him to see if he was okay as far as his health. I think he had knee problems or something like that but now he’s doing all right. I see him working out so I assume he’s doing all right."

While the Buckeyes may not return a ton of catches, they do return experience. Redshirt sophomore Parris Campbell started the first three games for Ohio State last season before succumbing to his own injury dealings, missing six games over the course of the year.

Campbell is back as well and Barrett sees a spot for him.

"He works the Z, the position Jalin worked last year for us," he said. "He’s probably going to be our guy who is going to catch inside routes."

The success of the Ohio State wideouts in 2016 may not depend just on returning players, but also newcomers. Freshman Austin Mack — at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds — already looks like a collegiate receiver. As one of the highest-ranked receiver recruits in the 2016 class, expectations are high for Mack, and he's already making noise.

Barrett on Austin Mack, Torrance Gibson and the key to success in 2016 on Page 2

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