The Buckeye pass-catchers caused quite a stir on social media Saturday morning, and not just from the Scarlet and Gray faithful who were furiously sharing video of their 40s.
“Is there any skill position players from OSU that can’t run fast?” tweeted Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe. “This is ridiculous.”
That the three could make headlines on their way from one level of football to the next was fitting to anyone who has followed Ohio State football over the past five years.
Four-star recruits from Ohio, Indiana and Florida, respectively, Campbell, McLaurin and Dixon were expected to help remake the receiver position after it was largely a disappointment early in Urban Meyer’s tenure as Ohio State coach.
They did, but their road to the top took longer than any of them probably expected.
Dixon battled recurring knee issues early in his career, while Campbell arrived more athlete than receiver from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
“I'm getting chills actually just talking about it, you asking that question,” Campbell said in regards to the adversity the trio faced. “Just 'cause I know where each of us came from. We were at the bottom of the fish tank, working, trying to swim out.”
Dixon credited Campbell for convincing him not to give up the game.
“When I was at my lowest point, he was the guy that was there for me every day, helped pull me through the dark time,” the West Palm Beach, Fla., native said. “Sometimes I don’t know if I would have came back if it wasn’t for him.”
How does @PCampbell21's speed stack up with three of the best WRs in the NFL?
McLaurin, a star at Indianapolis Cathedral High School, said the difference in competition level was a shock to the system when he got to Ohio State.
“It’s hard — It doesn’t really matter the stars you came in with,” McLaurin said. “I’d say one of the most adverse situations I came into was redshirting as a freshman. I came from Indiana and was the best player (in the state), but I was going against 50 of the best players (from around the country).”
All three blossomed over the past two years, benefiting from the arrival of Ryan Day as quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator in 2017 and Haskins’ ascendance to starting quarterback last fall.
Brian Hartline, a former Ohio State receiver who was elevated to receivers coach last August, has also been credited with furthering their development.
Campbell led the team with 1,063 yards on 90 catches last season while McLaurin had 35 catches for 701 yards and Dixon gained 669 yards on 42 catches.
“We helped change the culture of Ohio State wide receivers,” McLaurin said. “I’m seeing now online that top guys want to come to Ohio State. That’s how it should be. To have the chance to be coached by coach Hartline and play in coach Day’s offense and be a part of greatness around you, I feel like we’re setting a new standard.”
The three all served as captains last season and frequently did interviews together, so they were happy to have one more chance to be in the same place working toward a common goal — reaching the NFL.
“So just the amount of work that we all put in, the work that we put in together, the grind that we went through, it truly pays off,” Campbell said. "Just thinking about all the young guys at Ohio State now and the things that they're going through. It all pays off in the end. To just be here standing here talking to you guys is a huge blessing and a huge honor.”