Curtis Samuel had the most successful season ever for a player at Urban Meyer’s favorite offensive position during the 2016 campaign.
Samuel tallied 865 receiving yards, 771 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns at Meyer’s famed H-back spot. The Brooklyn, New York native was the only player in the Football Bowl Subdivision with at least 700 yards in each category. Essentially, the spot in Meyer’s offense that was once referred to as “Percy Harvin role” is now known as the “Curtis Samuel position.”
It’s certainly not going to be easy for the Buckeyes to replicate that type of production.
But Ohio State certainly has options. And after the Buckeyes’ sixth practice of spring ball Tuesday, Meyer tabbed a potential lead candidate to fill the rather large void left by Samuel’s early departure to the NFL.
Redshirt junior Parris Campbell, who spent the first three years of his career working almost exclusively at outside receiver, has spent plenty of time working in the slot this spring in the portions of practice open to the media. Meyer confirmed Campbell’s move when he met with the media Tuesday and he appears to be the leader in the clubhouse to become the Buckeyes’ next H.
“We moved Parris inside for a little bit and he’s dynamic,” Meyer said. “He’s that guy right now. … We’re still playing around with who is going to play where but that’s a huge position for us.”
A former four-star recruit out of St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Campbell was a high school running back — and a very good one — in addition to a state championship sprinter in track. He spent the first three seasons of his college career in Zach Smith’s wide receivers room so he has experience now running routes and his skill set seems like a perfect fit for what Meyer wants out of the H position.
“Big dude that can run and catch,” Meyer said.
Campbell’s numbers last season were pedestrian at best. He played significant snaps in all 13 games for the Buckeyes but managed to record just 13 catches for 121 yards. Additionally, he carried the ball four times for 54 yards and a score. He’s a guy that has been lauded during spring ball for two years now, but production on the field in the fall hasn’t exactly matched the praise.
This spring, for whatever reason, it seems different.
Meyer was asked about Ohio State’s wide receivers in general Tuesday morning and he hardly hesitated when he rattled off the pecking order. Campbell was the first name out of his mouth. At 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, he has the perfect blend of size and speed to fill the H-back role. K.J. Hill and Eric Glover-Williams also seem like options — Demario McCall has been almost exclusively with running backs this spring — but Hill can also play outside receiver and Glover-Williams is still in a transition from defense to offense.
The Parris Campbell hype train is moving full speed ahead. The only question now is will it continue when the season rolls around.
“He’s standing out big time,” Meyer said. “He’s one of my favorite players just because he’s so unselfish and goes so hard.”
“He deserves a great year and he’s one of our best playmakers right now.”