Ohio State Football: Looking Ahead to the Buckeyes' Rebuilt Wide Receiver Corps

David RegimbalFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2016

Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Parris Campbell (21) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State has to find new starters at all three wide receiver spots before opening its 2016 season against Bowling Green on September 3, and while there's a shortage of experience, the Buckeyes have loads of talent on the perimeter.

But even with that brimming potential, finding successors for Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller—who led Ohio State in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2015—will be one of the biggest challenges for Urban Meyer and the coaching staff during spring and fall camp.

So who will be J.T. Barrett's top targets this fall?


The Comeback Kids

Ohio State wide receiver Noah Brown
Ohio State wide receiver Noah BrownKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ohio State was supposed to get big contributions from Noah Brown and Corey Smith in 2015, but both saw their seasons cut short after suffering broken legs.

Brown's injury came during fall camp, which was a huge blow to the wide receiver corps. The 6'2", 222-pound sophomore was breaking out in practice and primed for a huge season, and the Buckeyes were relying on him to bring his aggressive perimeter blocking and crisp routes to an already explosive offense.

Smith went down in the first conference game of the year, when the Buckeyes hit the road for a matchup against Indiana in Week 5. He was struggling to find his way in an uninspired passing attack, catching just five passes for 62 yards before his season ended, but that was more a result of poor quarterback play than anything he failed to bring to the field.

Thanks to the NCAA granting Smith a medical redshirt to return for another year with the Buckeyes, both he and Brown will look to bring some much-needed experience to the position.


The Eager Hopefuls

Ohio State wide receiver Torrance Gibson
Ohio State wide receiver Torrance GibsonSteve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

There are a number of wideouts hoping to have their breakout year in 2016—some underclassmen and one playing his final season with the Buckeyes.

Parris Campbell had an opportunity to shine as a redshirt freshman last year, and on the first drive of the season, it was clear why the coaches were so high on the blazing youngster.

He broke free from the man coverage applied by Brandon FacysonVirginia Tech's fantastic cornerback—and Cardale Jones hit him in stride for what should have been a 39-yard touchdown. Campbell dropped the pass, though, and from that moment, he was never able to bounce back and make an impact.

That should change in 2016 because the Buckeyes need him to bring his elite speed to the perimeter.

Campbell will lead a group of former blue-chip recruits looking to find a role in a wide-open offense. Torrance GibsonK.J. HillJohnnie Dixon and James Clark were all rated as high 4-star prospects in high school.

But none of those guys have a more pivotal season coming up than Dontre Wilson. The all-purpose back was supposed to be the new Percy Harvin in Meyer's offense, but through three seasons, Wilson has only produced 923 total yards of offense.

Wilson will have the opportunity to lock down the starting H-back spot this offseason.


The Young Guns

Ohio State wide receiver Binjimen Victor
Ohio State wide receiver Binjimen VictorCredit: 247Sports

The Buckeyes have a trio of true freshmen who could make an immediate impact next year.

Two of the threeAustin Mack (No. 10 wide receiver for the class of 2016) and Binjimen Victor (No. 12)—are pure pass-catchers who double as lethal red-zone threats. Mack checks in at 6'2" and Victor is nearly 6'4", so the team could utilize that mismatch in scoring situations this year.

On the interior, the Buckeyes could get a huge boost from Demario McCall, a high 4-star all-purpose back out of North Ridgeville, Ohio. McCall starred as a running back in high school, but the Buckeyes are looking to move him to the perimeter to pair with Wilson at H-back.

These three freshmen could play big roles on the 2016 team, but at the very least, they'll get their feet wet with wide-open battles at each receiver position this offseason.


All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.