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Ohio State: K.J. Hill stealing show for Buckeyes with dazzling touchdowns

Ohio State-K.J. Hill-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill highlights the individuals leading the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Ohio State: K.J. Hill stealing show for Buckeyes with dazzling touchdowns

Win or lose, every week there are a handful of Ohio State players who stood out above the rest.

Following the tradition of the helmet stickers that dates back to the days of Woody Hayes, Lettermen Row shares out our version of the award every Sunday morning for the best performers on offense, defense and special teams for the Buckeyes.


COLUMBUS — K.J. Hill is getting to the point where it’s getting more difficult to pick his biggest, best catches.

But the Ohio State wide receiver didn’t hesitate to give his highest marks to his latest entry on the highlight reel, a mesmerizing, impossible-to-believe, one-handed grab on the run for a touchdown on Saturday in the win over Minnesota.

“Definitely a 10,” Hill said. “Really, it was supposed to be an easier catch because I was supposed to turn my head around faster. But I guess was just so surprised that I was looking around, and when I turned my head, it was just a reaction really.

“I’ve done it in practice, so I don’t think on the sideline that it was a surprise that I did it.”

It was so good, the Buckeyes couldn’t even wait to watch the replay until after the game, with teammate Johnnie Dixon busting out his phone in the locker room at halftime to show Hill exactly what he did before coasting to the end zone.

Now, along with clutch touchdown grabs in wins over TCU and Penn State to go along with it, Hill is making his case as the go-to performer when Ohio State needs a spark in the passing attack.

“He made a crazy play,” Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins said. “At first I was kind of mad because that play we’ve been working all week in practice, and it happens a lot faster. So, I wanted him to get his head around, so when he looked, the ball was already there and it was a little behind him.

“K.J. is a little character. He was pretty hyped up, and he had a career day today.”

There’s no question that rated as one of the best he’s ever delivered for the Buckeyes, and the competition is getting fierce.

Ohio State-K.J. Hill-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

K.J. Hill is becoming a force for the Ohio State Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Offense

WR K.J. Hill

Dwayne Haskins delivered another fantastic outing with more than 400 yards passing, but the redshirt sophomore quarterback might have had a hard time holding off K.J. Hill for top offensive honors this week if he hadn’t already been retired from consideration. Hill was masterful at wide receiver, hauling in 9 catches for 187 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also adding one of the best grabs Ohio State has seen in years. The Buckeyes are still more than capable of spreading the football around to its deep cast of wide receivers, but Hill is proving to be one of the most reliable, dangerous weapons on the team.

Ohio State-Pete Werner-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner is developing right on schedule for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Defense

LB Pete Werner

A surprise starter coming out of training camp, Pete Werner is validating that decision and getting stronger with each passing week in the lineup. Against Minnesota, he delivered his best overall outing to date with 10 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss with a sack. And perhaps even more encouraging for Ohio State? He came into the postgame press conference dwelling on the mistakes and areas where the Buckeyes still have to get better instead of a second-half shutout and his own individual improvement. Pete Werner is developing into the kind of consistent linebacker the Buckeyes absolutely need.

Ohio State-Blake Haubeil-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State kicker Blake Haubeil made a surprise start for the Buckeyes and delivered. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Special teams

K Blake Haubeil

A surprise starter as the placekicker for the Buckeyes, Haubeil made the most of his chance to go show what he could do and put points on the board. In a more competitive matchup than anticipated, his three field goals and three extra points wound up being critical. And Haubeil also showed off a big leg by drilling a 47-yarder that was easily the longest this season for Ohio State. It looks like it might be time for a permanent change at kicker.

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Time to Replace RT Prince & RG Knox? Is Meyer too loyal to make the changes?

Sometimes players have reached their potential and won’t improve with more practice, etc.

Prince has repeatedly gotten beaten by quick DEs. He is a senior with plenty of experience and there are doubts that more experience will lead to improvement.

Knox gets repeatedly pushed back into the backfield particularly on short run situations.

Everyone hoped that QB Barrett would mprove his passing with more experience, etc. But he never did. Time to rotate others in to play RT and RG?

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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