Back in the day, Ohio State used to have some of the most dynamic kick returners in the nation. Ted Ginn Jr. and Roy Hall made a living taking kicks to the house.

However, despite the explosive talent the Buckeyes bring in, they have struggled with punt and kickoff returns since the departures of both Ginn and Hall.

The last kickoff return for a touchdown came nearly eight seasons ago when Hall returned one for a touchdown against Michigan in 2010.

Ohio State’s last punt return for a touchdown came in 2014 against Indiana. At the time, the Buckeyes were down 20-14 when Jalin Marshall fielded a punt near midfield. He ended up returning it all the way for a touchdown to give the Buckeyes the lead.

Ohio State has been so successful at returning kicks in the past. The question remains why have the Buckeyes been so dreadful in recent years despite plenty of talent?

Catching

We all know Ted Ginn Jr. isn’t known for his hands, but even he was able to consistently catch kicks in college.

It seems every time Ohio State puts a returner back to receive a kick the entire Ohio State fan base holds their collective breath praying to the football gods that whoever is returning the kick just simply holds on to the ball.

In the first game this season C.J. Saunders fumbled a punt against Oregon State. That was followed up by another fumbled punt in week two against Rutgers by Demario McCall.

These two players aren’t the only ones who have struggled catching kicks. In 2016 Dontre Wilson dropped some kicks too.

Catching the ball isn’t rocket science, but it is the most important step in the first phase of a kick return.

Blocking

Blocking is easier said than done on kickoff returns.

On the kickoff returns it may be one of the toughest plays in all of sports because it requires a player to go from a stand still position to blocking a gunner running full speed from the kickoff team.

Overall this is more luck and scheme than anything.

However, blockers on punt returns have been not been great this season.

In the first game of the year, Saunders was blasted by a gunner because he was not blocked.

Although it was called a penalty for kick-catch interference this cannot happen if the Ohio State fans expect the returners to do something with the ball once they catch it.

Moving Forward

The Buckeyes desperately need to find a consistent kick returner with big games around the corner. Both Saunders and McCall have struggled early and one of them needs to step up.

Parris Campbell is also an option to return kicks and is someone the Buckeyes could turn to in big games. Finally, another name that should get a chance is freshman Jaelen Gill, who recently lost his black stripe.

At this point, all options should be on the table for the punt and kick return units.

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Author Details
I am recent graduate of The Ohio State University who is currently following his dream of sports writing. I was born in Wayne, New Jersey and played football in high school all four years. In college I stuck to intramural basketball. Although not much of a scorer, I liked to consider myself a real gritty “bring your lunch pale to work” power forward with playing style being described as a mix between Reggie Evans and Rick Mahorn. I am a lifelong Denver Broncos and New York Yankees fan, a skeptical yet optimistic New Orleans Pelicans fan, and above all else a die hard Ohio State fan. @DSmythTheMyth18
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I am recent graduate of The Ohio State University who is currently following his dream of sports writing. I was born in Wayne, New Jersey and played football in high school all four years. In college I stuck to intramural basketball. Although not much of a scorer, I liked to consider myself a real gritty “bring your lunch pale to work” power forward with playing style being described as a mix between Reggie Evans and Rick Mahorn. I am a lifelong Denver Broncos and New York Yankees fan, a skeptical yet optimistic New Orleans Pelicans fan, and above all else a die hard Ohio State fan. @DSmythTheMyth18

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