Blocking is a rite of passage for the Ohio State wide receivers.
No matter the skill set of the player in the position group, the expectation from head coach Urban Meyer and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline is for the receivers to be selfless, not selfish on the outside, paving a way for others to make a play.
For some recruits, that is a difficult thing to realize.
A four-star recruit out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, junior Binjimen Victor, along with former four-star and junior receiver Austin Mack, were the top-rated recruits in Ohio State’s 2016 class. Even with Victor’s promise, Meyer said one thing kept him off the field early on: his inability to block effectively.
Over time though, Victor bought into the culture of the receiver room, something Ohio State saw on Saturday.
“I can’t remember who caught the ball because I don’t care who caught the ball. I care about blocking. It was elite,” Meyer said. “We had a little moment together with the receivers and Ben Victor he has become, as Parris [Campbell] said, he has become one of us and that’s a pretty cool thing.”
For the player running the offense behind center, this group of receivers is unlike anything he has ever been a part of.
“For them, it’s not about them,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins said. “It’s the most selfless receivers I have ever been around before and it’s all about the group more than any person.”
Redshirt junior wide receiver K.J. Hill said it does not matter the size of the receiver when approaching blocking. It’s all about heart and effort.
And, to Hill, there is no receiver that encapsulates that mentality more than redshirt senior Terry McLaurin.
“Every block he done made, he done put somebody on their butt or he knock somebody out,” Hill said. “If I was young coming in and I want to be a great blocker, I would look after Terry.”
McLaurin was a major part of Ohio State’s game-winning play against Penn State on Saturday.
Down 26-21 with 2:03 left in the game, Haskins threw a screen pass to Hill on the right side. Both McLaurin and junior wide receiver Austin Mack were in front of him, with Mack taking the immediate second-level blocking. McLaurin, running a fly route on the right sideline, came back diving to block a safety from getting to Hill, who pranced into the endzone for the 24-yard score.
“When you see Terry out there, you just have confidence and I know he had confidence in me doing what I do,” Hill said. “It just worked together.”
Ohio State has a routine on scores. Meyer said, after every score, instead of celebrating, that receivers need to “go hug the lineman.”
However, this mentality is what Hill says makes the Ohio State receiver room different. It’s what makes them stand out from other rooms in the country.
“It’s just something we do for each other and as a team, you know, if we want to be the best in the country, we have to have the blocking with it,” Hill said.
Blocking is not for the players that want all the glory. It’s for those who sacrifice their own success for the good of the entire offense. To Meyer, it’s a good representation of the cohesion of the veterans in the Ohio State receiving room that sets it apart from the other programs around the country.
“It’s the selfless, it’s the fellowship of a team,” Meyer said. “That’s what it’s all about.”