Part of the infamous clown show, the Ohio State receiving corps was coming in with little fanfare in 2012.
A year prior, the combination of an inexperienced freshman QB coupled with an offense in the absence of Jim Tressel gave the receivers few chances to showcase their abilities (See example A). The terrible mix ultimately lead to a team high 14 receptions over the course of the season.
Heading into 2012, it was evident the receivers’ heads were swimming as they struggled to grasp Coach Meyer’s spread offense.
Dropped balls, shoddy routes and a lack of a clear number 1 had everyone in Columbus fearing the worst for the passing game.
Luckily the group stepped up. While far from the best receiving corps in the country, the likes of Corey Brown, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer and Chris Fields presented themselves as a serviceable unit, able to make plays when called upon.
The group is motivated to up their game in 2013, but to move forward it’s necessary to reflect on where they’ve been.
That’s why I’ve compiled the five best catches of the 2012 season.
#5 Evan Spencer. Miami
Up 21-3 in the second quarter the Buckeyes were facing a third and 15 at the Miami 45.
Dropping back to pass, Braxton Miller found Evan Spencer in single coverage streaking toward the center of the field.
Miller let a dead duck fly, but Spencer was able to make the adjustment, going up to snag the ball at its highest point. Pass interference was waved because you've gotta let a catch that good stand.
#4 Devin Smith. Michigan State
Down 13-10 in a hard-nosed defensive battle, the Buckeyes desperately needed something to break their way.
A rowdy East Lansing crowd was sensing an upset, but Devin Smith and company had other plans.
On first and 10 from the OSU 37, Meyer quite literally threw caution to the wind choosing to air it out to a streaking Smith down the sideline. This was a thing of beauty and was the score that would seal the win for the Buckeyes.
#3 Corey Brown. Illinois
This catch was selected not so much for the snag itself, but rather for the rowdy yardage afterwards.
Five weeks after being called out for an extreme lack of YAC, Philly Brown decided he had heard enough.
In what was certainly the most impressive after-catch run during the 2012 season, Brown turned a 6-yard pass into a 37-yard TD breaking four tackles along they way.
#2 Chris Fields. Purdue
Without their star QB and Down 22-14 in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter, Ohio State was in trouble. Luckily Kenny Guiton was able to step in and say “nah, I got this”, marching the Buckeyes 59 yards in less than 47 seconds.
With a first and two from the Purdue 2-yard line, Guiton rolled to his left and fired the ball to Chris Fields. However, the delivery was low and Fields had to make a diving catch to pluck it.
The catch was a gem, and was ultimately the catalyst for one of the greatest comebacks in recent Buckeye memory.
#1 Devin Smith. Miami
You all knew it was coming. Last and anything but least, Devin Smith’s unbelievable one-handed haul against Miami.
Rarely does an announcer proclaim a grab is the “catch of the year” during the first weekend of the college football season, but it was that good (and turned out to be true).
Wow ‘em Devin.
Here’s to seeing many more receptions like this during the 2013 season.