'Grind' helped OSU receivers reach combine
INDIANAPOLIS — Parris Campbell was a converted running back whose hands at his new position often failed him.
Johnnie Dixon was ready to quit football because of knee tendinitis.
Terry McLaurin looked like a player who might never fulfill his potential.
Yet despite their struggles at Ohio State, or maybe because of them, here they all are at the NFL combine. They were the driving forces in improving the culture in the Ohio State receivers room. They became captains last year as fifth-year seniors and now are on the cusp of the NFL.
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“I’m getting chills actually just talking about it, you asking that question, just because I know where each of us came from,” Campbell said. “We were at the bottom of the fishtank, working, trying to swim out. 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 worked diligently at improving his hands as a hybrid receiver at Ohio State. The drops became less frequent as a senior. Campbell caught 90 passes and used his rare speed for 1,063 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018.
He is now viewed as a possible second-round pick.
Campbell also is partly responsible for saving Dixon’s career after the 2016 season when Dixon was ready to quit because of his persistent knee problems.
“When I was at my lowest point, he was the guy that was there for me every day,” Dixon said. “He helped pull me through the dark time, and sometimes I don’t know if I would have come back if it wasn’t for him.”
Dixon’s knees improved through rehab, and he said the tendinitis is a non-issue for NFL teams.
“Nobody has asked me about my knees,” he said. “I feel great. I’m going to go out there and do everything tomorrow. I’ve just been grinding and I’m fully healthy, so that’s not in question right now.”
McLaurin didn’t have the dips of the other two, but he just seemed to be a guy who continually almost made plays. That changed late in his career. He became invaluable as a receiver for his catching and his devastating blocks as well as for his prowess as a gunner on punt coverage.
He drew raves at the Senior Bowl and is now considered a likely second- or third-round pick. For the Indianapolis native, participating in the combine is particularly special.
“It’s actually a dream come true,” he said. “I remember watching this event countless times.
“I’ve had a lot of great memories in high school and college at Lucas Oil Stadium. Hopefully I can make another memory tomorrow (in drills).”
Running back Mike Weber didn’t want to predict a time in the 40-yard dash on Thursday, but he brimmed with optimism about it. That proved well-founded. He posted a time of 4.47 seconds on Friday, tied for third-best among running backs.