Replacing a four-year starter who is arguably the most accomplished and decorated quarterback in Ohio State history was never going to be easy, but just over two weeks after J.T. Barrett's Buckeye career came to a close, Ohio State is already looking at best-case scenario.
Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon each faced NFL decisions this offseason, and after consideration, all four elected to return to school for another year.
For the Buckeyes means that the team returns its top six receivers, who combined for 73 percent of the team's yardage through the air last season as well as 66 percent of the receptions and 74 percent of the touchdowns.
Though Ohio State is always prepared for roster attrition and has talent waiting in the wings if those four did choose to take their talents to the next level, the importance of having a veteran receiving corps to break in a new quarterback should not be overlooked.
With Barrett's departure, the Buckeyes aren't just losing record-breaking numbers, they're losing a four-year starter who's taken the vast majority of the first-team reps in practice for years and has been the leader of the offense on the field, in the locker room and in the practice facilities.
His replacement, though undeniably talented, will be a player with little (if any) in-game experience who's taken few first-team practice reps and spent his entire career thus far as an understudy.
With Zone-6 remaining intact, that new quarterback – be it Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow or Tate Martell – will have a group of familiar veterans to lean on in the passing game.
While the quarterback learns the offense and begins to command it, his receivers are already familiar with their roles, the playbook and the terminology. They're already proven playmakers and have demonstrated excellence in fundamentals like blocking and route running. That will go a long way, both this spring and next fall.
Of course, this now sets up a situation a year from now where Ohio State might have to replace its top six wide receivers, if Hill, Mack and Victor choose to leave following next season, but the Buckeyes will cross that bridge when they get to it – this time, with an experienced quarterback.