Two seasons ago, Ohio State’s leading pass-catcher had 14 receptions. Seventeen months ago, head coach Urban Meyer referred to the offense as a “clown show.” A bulk of that opinion was formulated because of the underwhelming play at wide receiver.
Philly Brown and Devin Smith helped curtail Meyer’s judgment with 90 catches combined during an undefeated 2012 season. But there were still doses of underwhelming play. The biggest example was Brown’s receiving yardage total, which was below 1,000 yards, even with 60 catches.
Wide receivers coach Zach Smith said Brown took ownership of the dubious stat, admitting it was a joke and working to do something about it. The final result is seven pounds of added muscle, thanks to Mickey Marotti. Brown did add some laughter to the proceedings, saying, “I’m skinny.”
Chris Fields, in his final season as a Buckeye, said there’s an added sense of urgency because he only has one more opportunity to win a national championship. Despite the freshman receivers offering so much promise, Fields said he continues to help them along in their progress.
The improvement in Braxton Miller is very noticeable, according to Fields and Philly Brown. Fields said Miller has better mechanics and become a vocal presence in the huddle. Football IQ is the area Brown commented on. He said Miller is good at reading coverages at the line of scrimmage.
The offense is much more in sync, said every receiver and Zach Smith. Smith said he feels more rewarded this season seeing the strides receivers have made. Evan Spencer said the unit is noticeably more explosive.
”That little joker is quick.” -Spencer's analysis of Dontre Wilson. Said he's great at changing directions. You never know where he is.
Wilson has spent the bulk of his time in the wide receivers meeting room, not the running backs.
Spencer said the competition between receivers is good. Said the young guys are pushing the veterans to be more productive.
Last year was tough on Zach Smith, but he said vast improvement wasn’t going to come over night. The youth was underrated last season.
Wilson reminds Smith of some of the dynamic playmakers he had at Florida.
The guys who’ve made the biggest leap so far: Philly and Spencer. Zach Smith raved about Spencer’s improvements.
Jalin Marshall is another talented freshman. Smith said he loves coaching players who were quarterbacks in high school. He said Marshall has shown flashes of being great.
Another freshman – James Clark – is a typical freshman, according to Smith. Said he’s very fast, but has some improving to do.
Zach Smith has been very hard at times on Devin Smith. But Zach said today that Devin is even harder on himself.
Being in the slot – it’s something Philly said he won’t miss. He wants to catch deep balls.