Big Play Devin

By Kyle Rowland on September 19, 2013 at 9:15a
40 Comments
THIS GUY

The term “big-play receiver” was created for Devin Smith. The junior wide receiver has 13 career touchdown receptions for an average of 44.3 yards per catch. Last Saturday, Smith entered the Ohio State record book, along with quarterback Kenny Guiton, after the duo connected on a 90-yard scoring strike at Cal. It was the longest play from scrimmage in the 124-year history of the Ohio State football program.

The shortest touchdown pass of Smith’s career was his first, for 14 yards from Braxton Miller in the 2011 season opener versus Akron. He’s only caught three scoring receptions for less than 25 yards. Eight have gone for 40 or more yards. Three have been dramatic fourth-quarter game-winners. One has been the play of the year.

“He’s a problem for any defensive back in the country right now,” senior safety Christian Bryant said. “When you need a big play, you just throw it to him.”

This is the Devin Smith that was recruited by the Buckeyes coming out of Massillon. They viewed him as a talented playmaker who could get separation from defensive backs and create large swaths of production. He has 57 catches for 1,168 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career. His touchdown reception total is tied for the 12th-most in school history.

But nearly half of his receiving yards have come on touchdowns and only four scores have taken place against Big Ten teams. In fact, Smith has been held to zero receptions in six of his 16 career Big Ten games. His average yards per reception on 44 non-scoring catches is just 13.5 yards, which has elicited a call from head coach Urban Meyer for more consistency.

“Oh, boy, [Smith] is a pretty talented guy,” Meyer said. “Remember, he had a good game against Cal a year ago and then disappeared for a while. With Devin, it’s consistency. It’s certainly not about talent, he’s a very talented guy, wonderful young guy to be around. He just needs to show up every week with that eye of the tiger. When he does, he’s a really good player.”

Lending credibility to Meyer’s statement on Smith disappearing act after his five-reception, 145-yard, two-touchdown performance against Cal last season are the three games that followed: six catches, 118 yards and one touchdown. One of those games yielded no receptions.

Smith didn’t shy away from Meyer’s thoughts. He knows better than anyone that he could elevate his play. The comments have been a regular occurrence, dating to Smith’s freshman season, which coincided with the infamous team-leading 14 receptions.

He more than doubled his catch and yardage numbers last season, with the goal of building upon those totals as a junior. Smith is well on his way to a true breakout season with 13 receptions, 256 yards and three touchdowns — averaging 61.3 yards per score — through three games. Still, they don’t give out trophies at the quarter pole.

Devin the Dude
Year Game TD Distance
2012 Miami 23
2012 Cal 25, 72
2012 Michigan State 63
2012 Indiana 60, 46
2013 Buffalo 47
2013 Cal 90, 47

“If I go into the next game and not play as well, [the coaches] are going to jump on me about that,” Smith said. “I don’t ever want to have one good game and the next game not be as good. Coach Herman talks about being an everyday guy. That’s what I’m trying to do. I worked my tail off all summer to be that guy.”

Despite the gaudy numbers and touchdowns in clutch moments, Smith isn’t viewed through the same lens as Dontre Wilson, Jordan Hall, Philly Brown and other dynamic players. Yet, it’s been Smith that Miller – and, most recently, Guition – has turned to in the most crucial late-game moments.

Smith has the best combination of speed and sure-hands on the team. Throw it his way and he’s likely to track down an overthrown ball and catch it as if stick ‘em was attached to his gloves.

“I just take it one game at a time and play my tail off,” Smith said.

Said Guiton: “Devin has world-class speed. Sending him on deep routes in man coverage, we’re going to try to exploit that.”

Smith admitted last season was a bit of a blur. The spring bore disastrous results and even though Smith produced memorable plays in the fall, he said the implementation of the new offense came at the team so fast. 

That timeframe has since passed. The offense is clicking. Ohio State has scored three touchdowns in the first quarter of each game this season, and the Buckeyes are averaging 44.7 points per game and more than 500 yards of total offense. The artists formerly known as a clown show have developed into the main event.

"I would just say I’m a guy that just loves playing football and going out and making plays for this team whenever they need me, whenever my number’s called,” Smith said.

Or as Meyer puts it: “Oh, he’s bought in.”

40 Comments

Comments

whobdis's picture

If you think about it..when you think about who on this offense may do well at the next level you would have to consider Devin Smith. I have a feeling it will light it up at the combines. As mentioned he just needs to gain some consistency. We've seen him drop some easy ones. I don't THINK I've seen that this year.

D-Day0043's picture

He is going to have to put up some numbers this year to get noticed. There are a thousand other receivers with more catches and yards.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Disagree.  The NFL is looking for big play receivers.  You might have system type receivers that catch a lot of passes in the seams that won't work out at the next level.  Also, in the NFL you have QB's that can consistently get a ball out deep to receivers, Smith has been playing for a primarily running QB the last two seasons.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

D-Day0043's picture

Sure they are, but Devin Smith isn't one of them right now. He runs the go route and that's about it. He disappears for games at a time and can't get open consistently. If he can't get open consistently in college how is he going to get open in the NFL? He's not ready yet. He has a lot to learn. 

gwalther's picture

DEVIN'S MY DUDE. Unfortunately, bought a #15 jersey early last year...and now he's #9. Damn it. But hey, whatever. I just look like an early member of the EZE fan club.

Class of 2008

nfischer's picture

My next jersey is a no. 13!

buck-I.8's picture

Apparently a source close to Devin and his family has said that he thinks Devin will jump early for the NFL next year. I wouldn't buy that theory unless the team wins the National Championship this year, but take it for what it's worth.

D-Day0043's picture

That would not be a good decision. He has got a lot of work to do before he leaves for the NFL. If he does, he will be a late round draft pick at best (most likely un-drafted) and probably end up on some teams practice squad or out of the league. He is no where near ready for the NFL. 

whobdis's picture

Who knows..we say that about almost every early entry. Nobody thought Hartline would still be in the league. NFL is all about potential and if explodes at a combine he'll get his money. It's really not about your stats in college. Not saying I agree with that premise but they prove it every year in the draft.
 

D-Day0043's picture

Really it's more about his route running. He only excels at the go route. His route tree is very simplistic and he doesn't run any of them exceptionally well. If he has a freak workout at the combine someone will take a shot, but realistically he is so raw that he is going to need a lot of work. He would be better served staying and working to better prepare himself.
i don't say these things selfishly, if he is ready to play at the next level then by all means he should go. I just don't think he is ready, and leaving early may end up hurting him in the long run. I would stay and work on getting better to get a better draft slot and give myself every possible chance to succeed at the next level.
There may be other factors regarding his family, and he may need to go make some money. That can be a very tough decision. There are no guarantees.

nm_buck's picture

There's only one early-entry NFL prospect on this team and that's Roby.  And so far this season, even Roby's stock hasn't improved very much over last year.  Hopefully it will once BiG play begins.  I think all of the players would be wise to return.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Ryan Shazier is not a prospect?

bucks_4_life's picture

RDS is a beast, I just feel like he may be a little too undersized for the NFL.  I'm not sure with his frame if he is even capable of putting on anymore weight, if he were I would think he would have done it in the offseason.

The juice is worth the squeeze

hit_the_couch's picture

He's 6'2" and playing at about 230 right now; he entered tOSU at about 210. He's in his 3rd year, so he packed on about 20 lbs of muscle in a little over 2 years or so which is pretty good. He could very well put on another 10 lbs but it's a very slow process putting the bulk on especially when one is reaching the upper tier of what their frame can handle.
He could very well play at 235 since he's pretty cut up. Lots of NFL backers are in the 240 range but they've got some extra weight around the waistline with it. Dhani Jones played at 6'1" 235 for 10 years in league and others too. Hell, Brian Rolle was much smaller and is still in the league. I believe Rolle eventually bulked up some though.
If he doesn't put too much more bulk on, then he could likely try to play safety at the next level at he has plenty of speed.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

D-Day0043's picture

I could see Shazier being converted to safety in the NFL.

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

All of the NFL WRs who read our site, (theres got to be a lot right?), just had a cold chill rush down their spine at the thought of RDS playing saftey in the NFL.  

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.
"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

Young_Turk's picture

Let me introduce you to a man named London Fletcher.

Squirrel Master's picture

Shazier is the same size as many ILB and isn't much smaller than most OLB. Those who say he is too small aren't watching the NFL. With the pass happy offenses, a lightnening quick linebacker like him who can both cover and blitz is valuable. He might not be like Dion Jordan but he is a different player.
I really see Shazier as a really good ILB for a 3-4 offense. Not a true MLB but someone who can do a bit of everything.
FYI, Kevin Minter and Manti Te'o are both around 6'1'' and 240. Shazier is easily 6'2'' 230. Not that big of a difference.
 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

nm_buck's picture

Raw talent... absolutely.  NFL ready?  Not so sure.  He would do much better for himself by sticking around.  I hope he tears it up the rest of the season, and becomes a first round lock.  Don't know if he's there yet.  We all thought Big Hank was a first round lock....

OldColumbusTown's picture

Shazier is going to be a prized asset in the NFL going forward.  LB types like him, who are leaner, yes, but also faster, quicker, and better able to deal with the newer spread/option offenses in the NFL.  RDS may be "smaller" than a lot of other LB prospects, but how many times do you see his size as an impediment to his play?  He makes most tackles and pushes the pile back.  He doesn't get run over.
If he performs at the combine like most think he will, he could rocket up the draft charts as a top 10-15 selection.

BucksfanXC's picture

Yeah I agree he's a prospect but I believe his dad has said on more than one occasion that he's staying at OSU. Or maybe he just said he'd be getting his degree, which doesn't necessarily mean he'll stay all four years, but still.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Poison nuts's picture

Shazier is absolutely a pro prospect.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Aesculus.'s picture

"The artists formerly known as a clown show have developed into the main event."

 
 Brilliant.  Nice work.

11/8/2014 @Michigan State aka Payback

NitroBuck's picture

You beat me to the punch, Aesculus.  I had that exact thought!

Ferio, tego

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Beat you to the punch on what, the avatar?  :)

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

OSUStu's picture

Was anyone else as surprised as I was this past weekend to learn we had never had a play from scrimmage 90+ yards?

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

yrro's picture

I was surprised when I learned it a few years ago, when Boom broke the record only to have it called back by a bogus holding call.

OSUStu's picture

Good call.  I had forgotten about that.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

Oyster's picture

Archie could have had a ton of them, but Coach Hayes always made him stop at 3!

bucks_4_life's picture

I wish I had a 100 helmet stickers so I could "up vote" the hell out of this!! 

The juice is worth the squeeze

NitroBuck's picture

You and me too...I need 35 more.
 
[shameless plug]

Ferio, tego

Txsbuckeye's picture

That surprised the dickens out of me. All this time and kenny g and devin smith set the record. Good for them. I think devin is playing much better this year. Much more aggressive.

Godspeed

bucks_4_life's picture

I think Devin Smith is one of the most underrated receivers we've had at tOSU!  I love that guy!!  He makes some unbelievable catches!  Obviously the one handed jumping grab in the end zone last year and this year with the over the shoulder twisting touchdown catch.  He's a human highlight reel and if he can put it all together (route running, catching the "easy ones", YAC) he could leave OSU as one of the most successful and accomplished receivers to play here. I look forward to seeing him tear it up on Sundays!!

The juice is worth the squeeze

BucksfanXC's picture

I was shocked to learn that was the longest play from scrimmage in OSU history. That's a feat.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

cinserious's picture

Devin has the potential to be chris carter. He just has to keep working his tail off and improving his game.

"Get him a body bag, Yeah!"

Poison nuts's picture

Devin Smith is most definitely one of the biggest play-makers on the team. I think my biggest gripe with him last year was the dropped balls that were thrown right at him. He seemed to catch balls that were impossible & drop a bunch of the easy ones. If that is not a problem this year - he's going to be a huge part of the offense. Already has been so far.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Rizzoni's picture

It looks like our receiving game has taken the next step. In fact, every unit has made progress from 2011 except for the LB unit. This is what we have recruited in the last three years at the LB position.
Ryan Shazier, Curtis Grant, Jamal Marcus, Josh Perry, Camren Williams, Trey Johnson, Mike Mitchell, Christopher Worley, Luke Roberts*, David Perkins*, Conner Crowell*, Ejuan Price*.
These were some of the highly sought after recruits in the country, so what happened? I think Meyer is not publicly criticizing Luke Fickell, which is a wise move, but things have to change. If we don't fix what's ailing the LB corp, best of luck getting Raekwon McMillans of the world in future.
*no longer with the program

Squirrel Master's picture

WHAT? Outside of Shazier and Curtis, all of the others are barely SOPHOMORES OR FRESHMEN!
WTF are you talking about Luke Fickell being at fault for the linebackers. If Curtis Grant can't figure it out, then that is on him. Shazier is a stud and will be an NFL linebacker. Where is the credit for that huh? Everyone else are practically newbies! You just think Mike Mitchell will step right in and contribute with a "better" linebacker coach? Come on!
and in case you haven't noticed much, not like many teams they have played so far that would allow for 3 linebackers to be on the field at once. Been playing mostly nickel for the season. Kind of hard to develop players WHEN THEY DON'T GET ON THE FIELD! Grant is a problem, yes, but to say Perry, Marcus (who is a Dlineman BTW and is doing really well), Cam, Worley and 2 freshmen are not getting it is absolutely F'in ridiculous!
and to say Raekwon won't come here because of what you said is doubly moronic! Raekwon will go to which team he feels he fits best, not because other players might not be growing like YOU expect! Raekwon believes in Urban and that he will have a chance to win.
If anything, this is on the previous regime that couldn't bring in and keep linebackers. and I'm certain that when Urban questions how far along a unit is, its because his expectations are through the roof. Doesn't mean they aren't getting better or even a decent unit. From what I'm seeing, they are just young and still getting it. You know, like how most defenses are when they REPLACE 6 OF THE 7 DEFENDERS UP FRONT!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

dlb72osu's picture

I agree, SM. The anti-Fickell contingent simply has misplaced defensive philosophies, that's all. These brethren of ours don't realize that with todays offenses even the best defense does not throw shutouts to even the lowest teams. Wait till the Rattlers score on OSU, OMG! I can hear it now -  "the sky is falling! Fire Fickell, hell, fire UFM, himself!"
I love reading the comments almost as much as the article. And I always try to tell myself that there are as many different thoughts floating around out there as there are fans of our S&G. So let's be a little kinder to those that have a different perspective. With your command of the English language you will adequately get your point across.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
- Invictus

ScarletGray43157's picture

Yes, Smith could go pro after this year.  If I was him I would certainly consider the plus and minus of it.  Yes, he would likely be better served in the long run to stay his senior year, but the x-factor in that decision would be if Miller stays or not.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...