Even through a transition at the quarterback position and at their position coach, the Ohio State wide receivers still expected success during the 2018 season.
It was that success that encouraged the three redshirt-senior receivers — Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin — to return for their fifth and final collegiate season. It was that success that has defined the cohesion of what they describe as the most experienced unit on the team.
That success stemmed partly from what the wide receivers expected to see from redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
As a pro-style, pocket passer, Haskins has distributed the wealth in the passing game through four games, with redshirt junior receiver K.J. Hill leading the Buckeyes with 21 catches. In the red zone, Haskins has thrown 16 touchdowns to seven different receivers, with Campbell leading the way with five touchdown receptions.
For McLaurin, the age of the room and the leadership of the room does not matter at all if the room, as a whole, is not putting up numbers.
“Having a veteran group really doesn’t mean anything if you are not executing at a high level and we truly feel like anybody can have a day,” McLaurin said. “We really trust everybody that’s out there and there is really no drop off.”
The numbers have shown there has been no drop off.
Heading into Saturday’s game against No. 9 Penn State, Ohio State brings in the top passing offense in the Big Ten. With quarterbacks completing 76.9 percent of their throws, the Buckeyes have averaged 365.8 yards per game, which is sixth-best in the country.
Ohio State is tied with the University of Houston for the second-most passing touchdowns in the country with 17, seven more touchdowns than any other team in the Big Ten conference.
For Campbell, one of three captains in Ohio State’s wide receiver room, this is the amount of trust he wants his position group to have, to be considered as the main key to offensive success.
“We are in the position we want to be in,” Campbell said. “We want to be the unit that’s depended on in big time games. We like it that way.”
Because Campbell said he knows what’s at stake.
Ohio State will face the top scoring offense in the country on Saturday, a Nittany Lions offense that averages 55.5 points per game. The Buckeyes are facing an unrelenting offense with a very confident quarterback behind center in redshirt senior Trace McSorley.
In what many expect to be a shootout, Campbell said it’s expected that the Ohio State offense holds up its end of the bargain, coming into Beaver Stadium with the same unrelenting offensive attitude that it brought against Oregon State, Rutgers, TCU and Tulane.
In the eyes of a fifth-year receiver, a wideout who has been to Penn State, has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows against the Nittany Lions, Saturday’s matchup is just another big game.
“The wideout unit, we know how to prepare for big games,” Campbell said. “I don’t think it will be any different this week.”