Binjimen Victor’s touchdown catch last week wasn’t a game-changer like he had last year against Penn State.
Ohio State already led Miami University 35-5 when Victor ran a post pattern and leaped to make a 30-yard catch in the back of the end zone with a defender draped on him.
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But the lopsided score didn’t diminish from the play, and it provided further evidence that Victor is coming closer than ever to realizing his potential. That word has followed the Floridian since he arrived. No Buckeyes receiver, teammates and coaches would say, had a higher ceiling than Victor.
That’s in part because the 6-foot-4 senior probably can touch an actual ceiling.
“He’s got that giant catch radius,” coach Ryan Day said. “He has, I think, a 7-foot wingspan, so when you’re a quarterback, you can kind of throw it anywhere in his vicinity and he’s got a chance.”
Victor is second on the team with a modest 14 catches heading into a game Saturday at Nebraska, but context is needed. The Buckeyes spread the ball around, and starters have spent most of second halves this season watching backups mop up.
Victor leads the team with 242 receiving yards.
“When he plays well for us and makes those big plays,” Day said, “he really helps this offense get rolling.”
Victor entered the season with only 48 career catches, though 12 went for touchdowns. The one against Penn State last year, in which he made a tough catch and then weaved for a momentum-shifting score, is his signature play.
But Victor is now showing the consistency that once eluded him. He said it’s a product of the work he put in during the offseason.
“I feel I had to grind harder,” Victor said. “That's all they called me — potential, potential. It was all a grind, but it was all worth it.”
Victor could have entered the NFL draft after last season, but he knew he wasn’t ready.
“I wasn’t going to leave,” he said, “but if I did decide to leave, it would have been an awful decision, so I'm happy I did what I did.”
So are the Buckeyes, particularly quarterback Justin Fields. Victor has become one of his favorite targets.
“He can block,” Fields said. “He's a great route-runner. He has great moves after the catch and can jump high and has a big body and great hands. He’s a big threat down the field and in the red zone. He's an all-around receiver, and I'm grateful to have him.”
The key for Victor, as it has been throughout his career, is to sustain his success.
“I think that Ben Vic obviously has a stature that maybe some guys don't have,” Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline said. “He passes the look test more maybe than others. So to have that feeling (of confidence) for him, yeah, you guys see it.
“He's been a huge leader in our room. He's doing a great job on the field. (But) he’ll even tell you he can be better. So if he truly believes that, we're on the right page. If we think that we've made it and now we can kind of do what we've done, that’s not going to cut it.”
So far, Victor shows no signs of regression. This is his final year, and he’s determined to make it count.
“I'm playing well, and I’ve just got to keep that going,” Victor said. “Consistency is the biggest thing for me. I’ve just got to make sure it comes every week.”