The guy.

Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith uses the term with reverence. And as preseason camp ensued for the Buckeyes, he bestowed it on one upperclassman in particular: fourth-year junior Parris Campbell.

“This is Parris’ time to go be the guy,” Smith said. “He has always been a role player. He has always been a really good player. But he has never had to be the guy.”

There was no doubt who the star playmaker was for the Buckeyes in 2016. Hybrid back Curtis Samuel time and again caught more passes than any other Buckeye — more than doubling the catch total of the next-closest receiver for the season — and he finished third on the team in rushing.

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When times got tight, and they did a lot in the big games, Samuel was the default button for an offense that struggled to find any semblance of a balanced passing game, largely due to breakdowns in protection from the line and inconsistent play from the receiving corps.

Samuel left for the NFL, and he was a second-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers. That left a void at hybrid — a running back one play, a slot or split receiver the next — and coaches are turning to Campbell.

“Every year we’ve had one receiver that is kind of your dude,” Smith said. “I’d like it to be more than that; this year I think it’s got a chance to be more than that. But it’s Parris’ time to go be the guy on offense.”

Campbell has embraced the challenge.

“I’m confident … I’m comfortable where I’m at,” he said. “I’m at a different level with my game. I’ve developed so much over the past years, and I’m excited for the season … I’m more ready than I’ve ever been.”

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Perusing his background, he does check most of the boxes on the hybrid back requirement list:

• Like Samuel, Campbell was a running back in high school (Campbell attended Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary).

• Like Samuel, Campbell is one of the faster players on the team.

• Like Samuel, Campbell has had to learn the receiving side almost from the ground up; although Samuel was a backup running back his freshman year, Campbell has been with the receivers group since his redshirt year in 2014.

But unlike Samuel, Campbell has had a public struggle at times in coming to grips with being a reliable pass catcher. He was a starting receiver in the opener at Virginia Tech in 2015, had a big drop that night and never caught a pass … the rest of the year.

Last season, he had only 13 catches for 121 yards, with the longest being 16 yards, and none for touchdowns. Since then, however, Smith said Campbell has gone through somewhat of a transformation.

“His ball skills have gone from A to Z, I mean improved dramatically,” Smith said. “Just everything — owning the position, understanding the position, understanding the offense, being a guy who can be multiple and do different things.”

There have been glimpses of the big-play ability that the 6-foot-1, 208-pound Campbell could bring to the fore. He returned kickoffs with gusto against Clemson in the otherwise forgettable, 31-0 loss in the College Football Playoff semifinal last season.

“That is a big, strong, fast dude who has good vision,” said OSU assistant defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, who oversees special teams. “He came a long way. He’s going to be a great one.”

The signs were there in the spring, and coach Urban Meyer took note.

“He’s standing out big-time,” he said then of Campbell. “He’s one of my favorite players just because he’s so unselfish and he goes so hard. He deserves a great year.”

Campbell being voted one of nine captains for this season is a testament to what he means to the team. With that said, the intent of new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and Meyer is not to lean on one player as heavily as the Buckeyes did a year ago with Samuel.

For example, they think Campbell and K.J. Hill are both capable at the hybrid back, and they also moved flashy running back Demario McCall into that position in preseason. Freshman J.K. Dobbins has quickly proven capable as the backup to running back Mike Weber.

The receiving corps has potential with Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor augmenting Campbell and Terry McLaurin. Journeyman Johnnie Dixon and freshman Trevon Grimes also are in the mix.

That’s why Campbell’s expectations are tempered when it comes to trying to match Samuel’s output.

“My expectations are to do what I’m asked to do,” Campbell said. “It’s a huge responsibility, but at the end of the day I’m just in that position doing what I’m asked to do.”

But starting with Percy Harvin at Florida, Meyer made hybrid back “one of the Cadillac positions” of his offense, as McCall terms it, and Campbell understands the responsibility that comes with that.

“It is definitely a huge part of the offense, it’s definitely exciting just knowing” what could be, Campbell said. “But I also reflect on all the work I’ve put in.”

Smith has overseen most of that work, and Campbell’s progress. That’s why, while praising Campbell, he also threw out a challenge, knowing there are others eager to play, too.

“This has got to be his year, and he is committed to it,” Smith said. “He has done it since the year started. We’ve got to just see it come to fruition.”