Football: The Ohio

 

Ohio wide receivers Cameron Odom (left) and Brendan Cope (right) pose for a portrait at Peden Stadium on August 28. The two will look to provide a deep threat for quarterback Quinton Maxwell this season.

 

The Ohio “Flight School” will be undergoing some changes this season.

Andrew Meyer, a redshirt junior wide receiver, says the receiving corps had the nickname when he came to Ohio.

“We take flight,” Meyer said with a smile.

The group has the nickname every year, but this year will be different.

With Sebastian Smith gone after graduation, the Bobcats won’t have their top statistical receiver of the past two seasons. Jordan Reid is gone as well.

But even so, the Bobcats are in position to be productive. Smith commanded double coverages with his big-play abilities. Now, defenses will no longer be able to key in on one receiver.

Ohio doesn’t have anyone like Smith on the roster, but it does have something that is equally as good, or perhaps even better: an ensemble.

“I love ensembles,” said Dwayne Dixon, Ohio’s wide receivers coach. “And when you got ensembles like anybody can make the play, it makes it so much easier on the play caller.”

Last season the Bobcats relied on Smith to not only be the top receiver, but the No. 1 playmaker on the offense. The running backs were depleted with injuries, with A.J. Ouellette, Dorian Brown and Maleek Irons all out at some point during the season. Ouellette missed the entire year.

Smith led the receivers with 905 yards, averaging 69.6 per game. He caught four touchdowns, second behind redshirt junior Papi White and Reid.

Before, the Bobcats had to worry about who to throw to other than Smith. Now, they don’t.

“It makes it easier on me in substitutions,” Dixon said. “‘Well, I just called a post route. I want so and so to run the post route. Hey, coach this guy runs it just as good or better.’”

With redshirt sophomore Elijah Ball out for the season with a torn ACL, a new starter will have to surface; Ball was going to start along with White and redshirt senior Brendan Cope. The new starter will likely be redshirt freshman Cameron Odom, but he has struggled with an injury, too.

Though Ball is out, the Bobcats still have other capable receivers. That’s the fortunate part of this group: If a player can’t play because of injury or needs a rest, another is prepared.

“The way we run our offense, we’re running a lot of (go routes), a lot of posts,” Cope said. “We physically can’t do it all game.”

Meyer, Keevon Harris, Willie Cherry and Jerrid Marhefka are just some of the receivers who could receive playing time this season. Coach Frank Solich said that Meyer will be out against Hampton due to disciplinary reasons.

Ohio hasn’t had the depth that it has this season in some time. Most of the receiving corps is young, with Cope and Marhefka being the lone seniors.

That doesn’t matter, though. Because even with the group’s youth, potential is present.

“Flight School” is back in session, and the Bobcats are ready to soar.

“Yes, we’re young, but our guys are confident they can handle their business,” Dixon said. “As a coach that coaches that group, I feel at ease if I can put any guy in there and not worry about well the ball needs to go to a certain guy because we know he’ll make a play.”

 

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