For Ohio’s wide receivers, execution on the field is one facet of the game it can control. And as the Bobcats prepare for the fall, their wide receiving core wants to continue to do one thing: make big plays.
“We’re all veterans, we’re all experienced in game situations, so I expect big plays from the receivers,” senior Sebastian Smith said. Smith led Ohio last year with 65 receptions for 777 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ohio did not stop short of making big plays last season, with receivers catching over the shoulder fades and deep throws with ease. The receiving core accounted for 18 of the team’s 44 touchdowns, good for 41 percent of the Bobcats’ touchdowns.
The receivers were vital playmakers on offense, with Smith and Jordan Reid, along with Brendan Cope, catching a combined 14 touchdowns out of the core’s 18.
“I think we can make plays down the field vertically as far as catching the ball,” Smith said. “And we also can make plays blocking.”
Though receivers are some of the most athletic players on the field, they aren’t typically known for their prime blocking skills.
Ohio’s receivers, however, place a huge emphasis on blocking. If they block incoming linebackers and defensive linemen, they potentially can create holes for running backs to gain yardage or score.
“We’ve took (blocking) personally coming into spring,” Cope said. “We know that that was our weak suit.”
The receivers worked on blocking with wide receivers coach Dwayne Dixon in practice, shoving their hands into his chest and pushing him to the side.
Dixon is one of the team’s loudest and jovial coaches at Ohio, projecting his voice across the field as he hurls balls to receivers during catching drills.
“He’s a different cat man,” Reid said. “That’s all I can say about coach Dixon.”
Though Dixon makes practice fun for the receivers, he still preaches one of the group’s core principles: constant execution on the field.
“Know what to do, know how to do it and then execute it,” Dixon said regarding his receiver group. “Those are things that are being preached to on a constant basis.”
Football — and all sports for that matter — is about getting constant reps, repeating actions so that they are second nature.
“Like a guy going into a game shooting a three-point shot, ball travels, it goes in because you’ve done it so many times,” Dixon said.
Dixon said though the receiving core of 15 players has a limited number of repetitions, he still wants the veterans to have a sense of urgency come fall.
Freshmen Cameron Odom and Matt Seymour are early enrollee receivers. Redshirt freshman Elijah Ball caught the offense’s only touchdown in the team’s spring game. The receiving core’s youth is unquestionable. And they could have an impact come this fall.
“They know that in our system we want to get the guys that produce,” Dixon said. “And doing it on a consistent basis will be the guys playing for us.”