For OSU wide receivers, blocking is mandatory

 

Matt BuckeyeBuzz

Ben Victor made a dazzling play in the late stages of Saturday’s game against Penn State, weaving his way through the Nittany Lions’ defense for a 47-yard touchdown. It changed the complexion of the game and paved the way for the Buckeyes’ comeback win.

Victor would not have been in a position to make that play, though, if it wasn’t for a willingness to become a better blocker.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer requires his receivers to embrace little things like blocking and being willing to play special teams before they earn opportunities to catch the football.

“Ben Victor, and I’m saying this because I love him, he darn near refused to block, and we didn’t play him a lot,” said Meyer of what held Victor back in the past. “He had one of the biggest blocks in the game Saturday. It was on the left sideline. I can’t remember who caught the ball, I don’t care who caught the ball, I care about the blocking. It was elite. We had a little moment together with the other receivers and Ben Victor, and he’s become one of us. That’s a pretty cool thing.”

Meyer, whose coaching history is rooted in working with wide receivers, has always preached the importance of wide receivers being good blockers.

He has not hidden his affection for former OSU receiver Evan Spencer. In his entire career, Spencer made a modest 52 catches for 579 yards and seven touchdowns.

But what endeared Spencer to his head coach was his unselfishness. Meyer has called Spencer the best blocking wide receiver he’s coached.

It was Spencer’s key block that sprung Ezekiel Elliott for his 85-yard touchdown run that clinched Ohio State’s win over Alabama in the 2015 Sugar Bowl. One week later, the Buckeyes won a national title over Oregon.

This team’s version of Spencer is Terry McLaurin. He is just fifth among OSU’s wide receivers with nine catches this season, but his blocking has won him great admiration from his coaches and teammates.

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