Ohio State’s receiving core, Zone 6, has been one of the biggest question marks for the Buckeye offense the last three seasons. A year ago, Zone 6 had only four deep ball completions the entire season. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson wants to change that, and expects eight receivers to be involved in the offense. However, with the dismissal of Eric Glover-Williams, position coach Zach Smith is down to five game-ready receivers in his unit. This begs the question: what does the future look like?
Currently, the receiving core does not have a single Senior in the mix. Barring any injuries or departures to the NFL, that means that the entirety of Zone 6 is due to return in 2018. This should lead to a fairly experienced squad, yet still, the Buckeyes have a long way to go before they are even close to touching the 2014-2015 squad of Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Jalin Marshall, and Corey Smith. Someone will need to step up this year; many think that it will be Johnnie Dixon. Even if the unit does have a record-setting year, what does that mean for 2-3 years down the road?
As of September 7th, Ohio State has signed only Huber Heights Wayne 4-star L’Christian “Blue” Smith. Tuesday, 4-star receiver Jahan Dotson announced his commitment to UCLA; leaving just four of the 21 recruits Ohio State has offered left to announce. Of those four, only 4-star Kamryn Babb has shown concrete interest in Columbus.
Blue Smith will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with in the red zone; standing at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Smith could be a big target receiver akin to Michael Thomas and Noah Brown. Babb would bring a somewhat Devin Smith-esque body to the table. Decent size, speed, and hands make him an ideal deep ball threat. What is concerning is not the quality of talent coming in the future, but the quantity of it. Depth has been a problem for Zone 6 for three years now, and the Buckeyes need to figure out a way to turn that trend around for coming years. This will be especially important for the 2018 season, as a new will quarterback take the reins for the first time since 2014.
Another major sign of the future will come this Saturday against Oklahoma. It will be interesting to watch how this young squad responds to the pressure of playing the #5 team in the country just two weeks into the season. The matchup will show just how far these receivers have progressed, or not. For forty minutes against Indiana, they struggled to get open against the Hoosier secondary. JT Barrett hit plenty of deep passes, but a number were dropped in the open. However, that is not necessarily something to worry about if you’re a Buckeye fan. Week one is the most important learning period for a team, and Zone 6 seemed to turn it around in-game. We’ll see how much of that carries over into week two.
Note: Kamryn Babb will be making an official visit October 28, 2017 for Ohio State vs Penn State.