K.J. Hill has been Mr. Consistent all season long.
The redshirt junior wide receiver came into the game against Minnesota with at least four receptions in every game, and at least 45 yards in five of the six matchups, but never more than 95, which he had against then-No. 15 TCU.
This consistency has been the main approach for Hill throughout his collegiate career as he extended his streak of 27-straight games with at least one reception.
On Saturday, Hill broke that consistency, igniting for a career-high 187 yards on nine catches, including two touchdowns in No. 3 Ohio State’s 30-14 win over Minnesota.
Even with the career day, there will be one play that Hill’s performance will be remembered for — a one-handed grab on a 36-yard touchdown that he caught while facing away from redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the second quarter.
Haskins said he was originally upset at Hill for not turning around fast enough.
“At first, I was kind of mad because that play we’ve been working on all week in practice, and it happens a lot faster,” Haskins said. “I wanted him to get his head around, so when he looked the ball was already there, and it was a little behind him. But he made a crazy play. Of course, K.J. is a little character. He was pretty hyped up.”
Hill made his way to the endzone untouched, and had a memorable celebration to boot, pretending that the ball was stuck to his hand, which Hill said was necessary after a catch of that caliber.
“I guess I caught a little sticker, I stuck it, and it’s something I never did before,” Hill said. “You got to do something extra when you make a play like that.”
Redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin said head coach Urban Meyer may not be happy about the celebration because there wasn’t any “hugging the big guy,” but there was a valid reason for the celebration: he didn’t want anyone touching Hill on the play.
“I just remember turning around, I heard the crowd go ‘Oooo’ and I just saw him go up for the ball with one hand,” McLaurin said. “I just wanted to make sure nobody touched that hand because he stuck that ball, so it was pretty cool.”
Aside from the potential catch of the year for the Buckeyes, Hill remained a main threat for the Ohio State offense, and eventually scored again late in the fourth quarter to put a dagger through Minnesota’s hopes of a major upset.
McLaurin said his consistency allows the offense to have full trust in Hill no matter the situation.
“It’s third and short, fourth down, there’s really no doubt in everybody’s mind that he’s going to make the play,” McLaurin said. “The way he catches the ball is different from anybody in our room, and I’m happy for the type of day he had, he works really hard.”
Hill’s game helped Haskins reach his second 400-yard passing game in a row, the first Ohio State quarterback to have two 400-yard passing games, or to do it in back-to-back games. With the struggles in the run game and on the defensive end, the passing game remained a bright spot.
For Hill, even with his part of the offense firing on all cylinders through seven games, he said the passing game has a lot of room to grow.
“We still got a long way to go, you know in the passing game, we haven’t reached our ceiling yet,” Hill said. “We just gotta keep improving on the little things … on gameday got us just to 400, I feel like we could of had more.”