Ohio State receivers eager to show their speed at NFL combine

Joey Kaufman
Ohio State receivers K.J. Hill Jr. (14) and Binjimen Victor (9) celebrate with Austin Mack after his touchdown during the fourth quarter against Michigan last season. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Ohio State receivers K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor are keeping a friendly wager at the NFL scouting combine this week.

They have a bet on who will run the fastest 40-yard dash, one of the drills Thursday. Mack wants to reach 4.4 seconds, a time that could allow him to stake a claim as fastest among them.

“I’m definitely going to bet on myself,” Mack said.

The others offered no target time but were similarly bullish on their odds.

“I’m going to be fast enough,” Hill said.

While they jested among themselves, Victor admitted the talk served as motivation at the combine, the biggest event on the NFL calendar ahead of the draft in April. Workouts, with accompanying medical tests and team interviews, hold particular importance.

Last year, former Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell ran the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds, fastest in the class of receivers, to boost his stock. He was ultimately was drafted late in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts.

For the past two seasons, Mack, Hill and Victor were part of a deep receiving corps at Ohio State. Divided playing time and targets from quarterbacks offered limited opportunities to impress NFL teams.

The 2018 Buckeyes included Campbell and Terry McLaurin, who was a rookie star with the Washington Redskins, as well as Johnnie Dixon. Last year’s receivers included talented underclassmen Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.

Hill finished his career as Ohio State’s receptions leader, including 57 last season. Victor and Mack caught 34 and 27 passes, fewer than most draft hopefuls in Indianapolis.

After participating in the Senior Bowl last month, Mack considered the combine the latest showcase, one under close watch from coaches, scouts and other personnel, giving them an extended audition.

“You’re able to maximize and get in front of teams, get in front of the receiver coaches and be with those guys because you don’t have the production or targets during the games,” Mack said. “It’s a time to really get out there. You have an opportunity to increase your stock or drop it.”

Victor also played in the East-West Shrine Game, another all-star game, last month.

He caught a 36-yard touchdown pass, adding to his reel of highlight video with a leaping catch at the goal line, a display that showed off his 6-foot-4 frame.

None of the receivers expressed regret over their roles at Ohio State. Mack pointed out that their performances impressed enough people to earn combine invitations.

“Everybody wants to be the guy, but at the end of the day, it’s about your team, it’s about winning,” he said. “When the ball comes your way, maximize it. If I’m sitting here mad about not getting the rock, and the rock comes to me and I drop it, I don’t maximize the opportunity.”

Some of the receivers’ goals for this week extended beyond workouts. Hill, for instance, thought he could put his best foot forward in team interviews.

“I want to impress them with my personality and my character,” he said.

Hill and Mack have versatility. Teams have broached the possibility of them playing multiple spots.

At Ohio State, Hill lined up as a slot receiver, and though only about 6 feet, had discussed the possibility of playing outside receiver in the NFL.

“You could plug me anywhere,” he said. “I don’t have to just be stuck in the slot and only come in on this play or this package. A lot of teams talk about using me anywhere.”


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