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Football: The role of wide receiver Ben Victor in the 2017 Ohio State offense

The ref rules OSU freshman wide receiver Binjimen Victor’s (9) catch a touchdown during the second half of the Buckeyes 62-3 win against Maryland on Nov. 12. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

The thought of a 6-foot-4 wide receiver featured in a college offense is a prospect recruiters at big-time college programs salivate over. For a passing offense that was wildly underwhelming in 2016, Ohio State coaches fit into that crowd.

Lucky for them, they already have that size advantage in rising-sophomore wide receiver Binjimen Victor. The Florida native was sparingly utilized this past season, but based on his progression in the later months of 2016, Victor should see his production skyrocket.

Victor came into OSU at 180 pounds, according to 247Sports. One of wide receiver coach Zach Smith’s and strength coach Mickey Marotti’s goals for his new project was to put him on the Dontre Wilson diet — eat, lift and eat more.

Bulking-up was priority No. 1 for Victor. He had the height and speed entering OSU, but still he said he lacked knowledge of the game.

“For (Zach Smith) being my coach, like he taught me a lot on how to read coverages — everything,” Victor said on Dec. 29 at Fiesta Bowl Media Day. “He taught me everything I need to know so he’ll prepare me to get ready for game situations.”

As the season went on, Smith and coach Urban Meyer continued to say Victor was “close” to being ready to see significant time on the field with the starters. At the start of the season, all Victor did was play clean-up. But as it wore on, he was targeted several times, mostly in the redzone.

He caught his first touchdown of the season against Maryland, a 25-yard reception from backup redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Burrow.

“When I first caught it, it was amazing to me,” he said. “And then, at the end of the day, I’m a receiver, I’m supposed to score touchdowns.”

Victor said he expected to have a similar role in the Fiesta Bowl, another option for then-redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett. Victor had OSU’s longest reception of the game for 21 yards. What might seem insignificant given how the offense laid down and allowed Clemson to steamroll them all over the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium, the reception was actually quite telling.

It showed the trust Barrett and Meyer have in Victor and his development. The wideout from Coconut Creek High School in Florida said he was behind the ball a little bit coming into college having played at a public school rather than at a prep school. Nonetheless, the strides Victor made were significant. Now with prolific passing play caller Kevin Wilson as OSU’s offensive coordinator, Victor’s role as a deep threat and third-down receiver could be amplified even more.

“(Ben Victor’s) a guy — he’s just too good of a player to sit around,” Meyer said following the Rutgers game on Oct. 1 when Victor caught his first pass. “He won’t be here for five years. We said, ‘go, let that dog eat.’ And you’ll see more and more of him. He’s just getting better and better.”

Redshirt junior wide receiver Parris Campbell said at Fiesta Bowl Media Day that there’s still plenty of untapped potential in Victor. For a revitalized passing game, that potential will need to become reality.

“Binjimen, obviously he’s gonna be an animal,” Campbell said. “We always say at practice when he makes a play or something man that kid’s gonna be a problem.”

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