Not long ago and not long forgotten, an Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver made arguably one of the best receptions of the 2012 season. A diving, two-foot landing, one-handed catch in the back of the end zone against a formidable Miami University team a year ago was recorded as one of the top plays from not only that game, but the entire 2012 football season.
Junior Devin Smith was that receiver who made that catch and Devin Smith along with his senior counterpart Corey Brown lead the Buckeyes receiving corps into the 2013 season.
Memories of that catch, coinciding with a perfect record from 2012 give Buckeye fans much to look forward to in 2013.
In coming weeks, we will now break down, position by position, what Buckeye fans can look forward to for the 2013 football season. Using last seasons play, spring practice reports, freshman scouting reviews and eyewitness accounts, we will let you know what to count on, look for and possibly be surprised by during the approaching season.
In this installment, we’ll take a look at the wide receivers who will suit up for OSU in 2013.
No. 10 Corey ‘Philly’ Brown – Sr. 6-ft, 186 lbs., Springfield, PA
Senior wide receiver Corey Brown returns for his fourth season in Scarlet and Grey. Last year, Brown led the team in receptions with 60 and receiving yards with 669 yards.
While his three touchdown receptions were good enough for only third on the team, Brown’s leadership shone through in a multitude of games. Now a year older and with experience a plenty along the receiving corps, Brown will look to lead this group and the team for more than just a 12-0 record.
Along with Brown’s leadership, the senior has sure hands and is a great route runner on the outside, something quarterback Braxton Miller can rely on for 2013.
Brown’s best game from a year ago was arguably against Michigan State, a game in which he grabbed 12 balls for 84 yards. Production like that will be big for an offense that although were the top scoring offense in the Big Ten, ranked 105th in passing yards in 2012.
As the offense continues growing and learning head coach Urban Meyer’s playbook, if Brown produces in multiple games like he did against MSU last season, 2013 may be a big season for the Springfield, PA native.
2013 may even be a season that brings some hardware to Columbus for Brown.
Brown is one of two seniors named Corey Brown from the state of Pennsylvania on the active roster for OSU and thus comes the nickname Philly due to his hometown of Springfield being located just outside of Philadelphia.
No. 9 Devin Smith – Jr. 6-ft-1, 198 lbs., Massillon, OH
Ever heard of a guy named Devin Smith? Well if you haven’t, ever heard of that catch of the year from 2012?
Unless your head was in the sand during the majority of last year, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard or seen both of those items listed above.
Let’s rehash, shall we?
It was last fall, on a crisp autumn day when then-sophomore Devin Smith leapt from his back foot, caught a high ball with his completely outstretched right arm and planted both feet in bounds in the back of the end zone for one of the best plays from 2012. That catch was the first touchdown of the season in 2012 for the Buckeyes as it sparked a 56-7 run against Miami University in the opening game of the year.
And the Buckeyes never looked back en route to a perfect 12-0 record.
Smith brings that big-play ability back to Columbus for 2013 and adds quite the dimension opposite Brown for their quarterback and the rest of the OSU offense. Smith led the team in touchdowns with six a season ago and both his 30 receptions and 618 receiving yards were good enough for second on the team.
An honorable mention All-American on the track and field team this spring, Smith brings speed and a quick first step, used to open up defenses down field.
If Smith can capitalize on his opportunities this season and play consistently, opposite Brown and with the entire offense another year into the playbook, it may be no shock to see both Smith and Brown possibly be some award finalists come the culmination of the season.
No. 80 Chris Fields – RS-Sr. 6-ft, 200 lbs., Painesville, OH
Redshirt senior Chris Fields’ name may not ring a bell to those not fully involved with the program, but Fields’ brings with him four years of experience to the 2013 season. A fifth-year senior, Fields has only caught 15 balls during his time at OSU, but Fields did find himself taking over the starting position vacated by Jake Stoneburner during the Buckeyes’ spring sessions.
If Fields holds on to the starting position, that would give Miller a combined 12 years of experience between his three starting receivers.
Buckeye fans may also see Fields returning punts and kicks this fall, something he has done in both 2012 and 2011. Spring ball saw Fields back alternating with Brown, Smith and Bradley Roby, so while it remains to be seen how much Fields will be in for special teams, one thing is for sure, you will see him more so in his fifth season than in his previous years.
No. 6 Evan Spencer – Jr. 6-ft-2, 206 lbs., Vernon Hills, IL
Another veteran player for Meyer, Evan Spencer has that rare combination of size and speed. Measuring at 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds, Spencer still is clocked with a 4.45-second 40-yard dash time.
Spencer caught 12 balls a year ago in route to 136 yards, both good enough for fourth on the team.
He did not find the end zone in 2012, as he will look to change that in 2013. As stated before, the entire offense is a year smarter and a year more experienced in Meyer’s playbook, so time will tell how much Buckeye nation will see of Spencer come this fall.
No. 83 Michael Thomas – So. 6-ft-2, 199 lbs., Los Angeles, CA
Upon leaving Fork Union Military Academy, Michael Thomas found himself on the postseason prep school top 30 players as the fourth-best prospect heading into college in 2012.
While Thomas might not have had a freshman season garnished with gaudy numbers and top plays, he does have a leg up on his fellow receivers fighting for playing time as he enrolled early in 2012. Upon culmination of 2013 spring practice, Thomas has now been in Columbus for over 18 months.
That experience is apparently proving valuable for him.
Thomas led all receivers in the 2013 spring football game with seven receptions. Although Meyer and his staff aren’t ready to let the training wheels off fully for Thomas, it is a sign of improvement and also very safe to assume we might see more of the sophomore than from a year ago.
Thomas may surprise some people with his play and possibly some big numbers from a fourth or fifth target.
The departure of Verlon Reed leaves the rest of the receivers on Ohio State’s roster as a group of unproven and unknown players. Included in that group are redshirt-freshman Frank Epitropoulos from Upper Arlington, OH and walk-on’s Stacey Blunt, Devonte Butler, Peter Gwilym, Kato Mitchell, Brandon Ojikutu and Ryan Ross round out the receiving corps.
It all remains to be seen how much Urban Meyer’s run-first offense does throw the ball, but it’s safe to assume – with their level of experience amongst receivers – that they can improve on that 105th-ranked passing offense from a season ago.
Football Extra Points Greater Ohio Sports Reporter
Formerly the Sports Editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau