Philly Brown: Comparable to Legendary OSU Receivers?

By Michael Citro on October 17, 2013 at 4:15p
The numbers say Philly Brown is one of the best ever at Ohio State.

When Ohio State fans argue about the greatest wide receivers in school history, they usually bring up the likes of Cris Carter, David Boston, Joey Galloway, Terry Glenn, Santonio Holmes, Michael Jenkins and Ted Ginn Jr. Each is a true Buckeye legend and worthy of your praise.

It might not cross your mind to consider current Buckeye Corey “Philly” Brown among those names of great OSU wideouts. But it should.

Much like David Lighty did in basketball, Brown is quietly and steadily climbing the school’s list of all-time leaders in several statistical categories. He’s currently on a pace that would place him solidly among the most celebrated pass catchers in Buckeye lore.

But unlike Lighty, Brown didn’t have a partial year with a medical redshirt to pad his totals. The senior from Upper Darby, Penn., started very slowly, catching only eight passes in 13 games in 2010 and 14 more in in nine games in 2011.

At times, it didn’t seem that Philly would ever develop into half the player he has become. Who could ever forget the pass that bounced off his facemask in Ann Arbor in November of 2011?

Yet for all his early struggles and slow development, and perhaps a reluctance to adopt to Urban Meyer’s and Tom Herman’s new system, Brown has become not only reliable, but  one of Ohio State’s most dangerous weapons on offense.

"I'm a big Philly Brown guy now and I wasn't," Meyer said following the Cal game.

Since the light went on for Brown at the start of 2012, his numbers have exploded, putting him within reach of some of the more heralded Buckeyes to line up at his position.

If Ohio State reaches the Big Ten championship game and appears in a bowl game, Philly would be on pace to reach 889 receiving yards for the 2013 season, which would give him a career total of 1,868 yards — where he’d be in great company. That total would place Brown 11th in school history for receiving yards, tucked in between No. 10 Dane Sanzenbacher (1,879) and would-be No. 12 Brian Robiskie (1,866).

If he reaches that total — or exceeds it — Brown would finish ahead of such notable OSU greats as Ken-Yon Rambo, Jeff Graham, Cedric Anderson, Glenn, Brian Hartline, Anthony Gonzalez, and Mike Lanese. Those are some solid pass catchers, although in fairness some of them left school early to turn pro.

As for his projected season total of 889 yards…well, that’s better than any year Ginn had at Ohio State.

Plays like this are turning Philly from "solid" to all-time great.

Philly is on pace to snatch 70 passes this season, which would be third most in Ohio State history, behind only the 1998 version of David Boston (85) and 1997 Boston (73). Brown has already recorded the sixth most receptions in a season by a Buckeye last year, grabbing 60 — a mark DeVier Posey reached in 2009.

Reaching 70 catches for the year would give Brown a career total of 152. That would be the fifth highest total in school history, trailing only Boston (191), Carter (168), Jenkins (165), and Gary Williams (154). Philly would be ahead of the likes of Holmes (140), Ginn (135), Dee Miller (132) and Galloway (108).

Even if he didn’t catch another pass all season, Philly would finish with the 11th most receptions in school history. As of this writing, he needs nine more to tie standout tight end John Frank for 10th. He currently stands 18th in receiving yards and will catch Bobby Olive with 59 more yards.

The OSU media guide and record book would be filled with “Corey Brown” entries. Philly’s projected final average of 3.2 receptions per game would rank fifth in school history, tied with Jenkins and Williams. And don’t forget that he is already tied for fourth in school history for receptions in a game, with 12 last year at Sparty. Only Williams and Boston (twice) have hauled in more than a dozen passes in one game as a Buckeye.

He also scores. Brown has 10 career touchdown receptions and would move into the top 10 in school history with six more. He is averaging nearly one per game in 2013, so he’s on pace to finish with six or seven more before season’s end.

Philly has stamped his name into the record books as a punt returner as well. Only Garcia Lane, Graham and Ginn have returned more punts for touchdowns. Over his career, Brown is averaging 12.9 yards per punt return, which is the fifth best mark in school history, behind Graham (13.0), Larry Zelina (13.2), Ginn (14.1), and Neal Colzie (14.3). However, his numbers could go up, as he’s averaging 16.1 yards over his nine returns in 2013.

It’s reasonable to assume that Brown can continue his production if he stays healthy. The Buckeyes will run up against better defenses against the run, and Meyer won’t have the luxury of pulling Philly out early with the other starters as he did against San Diego State and Florida A&M.

If Brown stays on his projected numbers, he will have put together one of the best receiving careers in the annals of Ohio State football. But will he be remembered as one of the all-time greats? Or will his lasting impression be that of a steady, solid and consistent contributor — the David Lighty of football?



Philly White's picture

Given the passers he had, I don't think Sanzenbacher's numbers tell how important he was to those teams.

Maestro's picture

I don't disagree that Dane was fantastic, but the team passing stats for the years 2007-10 are pretty in-line with OSU norms.  2558, 1953, 2250, 2971 for those 4 seasons.  The past 2 seasons were worse than all of those, and this year is on pace to be around 2600.  Troy Smith had 2542 when he won the Heisman.

vacuuming sucks

Seattle Linga's picture

Dane and Hartline were those third down backs we needed so desperately. The kind of players you loved having on your team and the kind you hated playing against.

Knarcisi's picture

The play of both Brown and Smith has come up several notches. They are catching everything thrown at them. Win a BCS title and you have place in Buckeye lore like Michael Jenkins. 

BUCKI06's picture

Wow, I never would have thought his numbers were getting to those levels.  Nice write up. 
70 receptions would be awesome.  He's a legit threat to break one every time he touches the ball.

"As long as we're keeping score, we're gonna try to win this thing." - UFM

Timmah's picture

I've always seen Philly as a possession receiver.  He'll make the catch but he doesn't really do much with it after that.  There have been exceptions but they are few and far between.

Go Bucks!

iball's picture

I dont necessarily feel stats alone dictate your place among the greats at your position.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Michael Citro's picture

That's fair, but if not numbers, then what? Conference/national titles? If so, some of the best would be left out. Wins? Philly hasn't lost a game in a year and a half and is 36-8* in his career with 5-6 games to play (legit shot at 40+ wins in his career).


*Dammit, 2010!

CC's picture

That's fair, but if not numbers, then what? Conference/national titles?

2 Things: Big catches in big games.  He doesn't have a Devin Smith vs. Wisconsin moment or a Gonzales against Michigan moment.
The other thing is "take it to the house" ability on every play.  I know it's hard to quantify but watch a Ted Ginn highlight video and you'll see him take it to the house on what looks to be a normal crossing pattern.
I love Philly, and I expect his numbers will keep him in the conversation but short of that huge play or a huge game in the Rose Bowl or NC it's hard to put him in that category at this point.
There are still a couple more chapters to be written in the book of Philly Brown.

penult's picture

You mean like that 40 yard TD catch with 1 second left before halftime in a game Ohio State beat Wisconsin by 7? And oh, by the way, a game against Wisconsin where it actually means something.
Or that "take it to the house" 68 yard punt return against Wisconsin last year, which was only 1 of 2 Ohio State touchdowns in regulation? 
I get what you're saying about a subjective opinion, but yours is more like a selective opinion. 

CC's picture

No.  I don't mean plays like that.
Honestly I think you proved my point.  Are you really comparing the Devin play in 2011 with 50 seconds left while trailing to the end of a half play this year while we were leading?  I was at both, there's no comparison as to which was bigger.  Or to the Gonzales play vs. UM with 30 +/- seconds left?  Or to Holy Buckeye?  Or the Gonzales play vs. UM when they were 7 and we were unranked and he took it to the house for 60+?  That's what I mean by a big play, maybe I should have said "huge" play.  If you're honest you see the difference between them and an end of the half play in a game where we are leading.
As for kick returning, I would say opening the NC game with a kick return for a touchdown is the level I'm thinking of. 
Yes it's subjective.  I'm not knocking Corey, and he'll still have his chances but you're comparing him to the best Buckeyes of all time.  He's just not there yet in my opinion and very well could be at the end of the year.

penult's picture

Honestly I think you proved my point.

Sounds more like your mind was already made up, which is exactly my point.
Football is a game where all 60 minutes count, not just the last minute. Almost any play can potentially be a game changing or defining play. And yes, a punt return TD in a game where the team managed only 7 points in the other 60 minutes is as big a play as they get. The memory might not be as fond, but it doesn't mean it's not a big play.
There's nothing that Devin did differently in that catch than Philly did in his catch that could possibly lead anyone to believe that Devin is a better player than Philly.

CC's picture

Sounds more like your mind was already made up,

You're right I don't have any doubt about my opinion.

Football is a game where all 60 minutes count, not just the last minute.

If you think all plays in a game count the same I'm sorry but you may never grasp my point.

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

It seems to me like it would be impossible for him to achieve your standards this year unless it is in the national championship where our opponent is favored to win by 10+ points and it is the 4th quarter on a gamewinning comeback drive and he catches a touchdown pass of 20+ yards in close coverage as time expires.
I hate to break it to you, but you can be a great receiver and not ever have to be put into that position when you are on a great team.  
The first-half ending touchdown pass against Wisconsin was probably as close as we're going to get to that situation until January, this season.  And that play completely changed momentum and the outlook of the game going into the second half, so yes, I believe it should qualify as a great play.  
If that doesn't satisfy you, nothing is going to.

Aztooh's picture

Well, going with numbers, I'd say it's fair to also compare TD's and YPC.  Among OSU's top 31 pass catchers (speaking of # of receptions only), Philly has the lowest YPC.  Have to go to 32, Eddie George, who obviously isn't even a WR.
He's 20th in TD catches now, and with possibly 8 games left to play, has a decent shot at finishing his career in the top 10 with a productive 2nd half of the season.
Also, we're comparing his 4 seasons worth of catches to 3 seasons from guys like Boston Carter Holmes Ginn and Jenkins.   That's why I mention averages instead of just raw totals.  Imagine the numbers those guys would have if they played 4 seasons.
Corey has become a pretty reliable WR for OSU.  But he's not a game changer or difference maker like some of those other guys were.  As has been mentioned, his story at OSU hasn't been finished yet and he has a chance to move up the ranks in numbers and perception.

penult's picture

You make a fair point, but...
I'll play devil's advocate. Numbers are great and all, but even statisticians know they aren't the only part of a complete analysis. (At least the ones I've worked with in biomedical research seem to think that way.) WR play is largely dependent on the QB and offensive schemes (whether it be route trees, play calling, or the simple ability to move the ball, run more plays and be effective enough to have balance). Even something like YPC, and for that matter YAC, has some dependency on the QB to put the ball in the right place at the right time to give the WR a chance to catch the ball and get yards. 
Philly has played with Jim Bollman as an OC and Joe Bauserman at QB. The coaching changes also didn't help and Braxton Miller wasn't exactly slinging it around his freshman year either. Didn't OSU win a game where they had one completion that year? I grew up idolizing guys like Terry Glenn, Joey Galloway, David Boston, and Ginn. Even I in those younger years could recognize comparing those situations for those WRs to the one Philly has played in is not a fair comparison. Going from total completions to stats like average yards per catch is a step up, but it shouldn't be considered ironclad for a complete analysis. Indeed, it is ignoring confounders such as QB play and team offensive performance, as well as the unquantifiables such as the coaching situation (though it can be reflected somewhat in team offensive numbers and rankings as additional variables). Multivariate analysis that included how well the QB performed while comparing WR performance would surely paint Philly in a brighter light more comparable to the noted former OSU WR legends.  Not to mention that saying the comparison of Philly to these other guys is a four years to three years comparison is laughably dishonest.  Philly had a whole year where there was an interim head coach, Jim Bollman in the driver's seat of the offense, and shared snaps between Joe Bauserman and a freshman year Braxton Miller, and oh by the way, no worries because the QB coach was a video coordinator. Show me one of those 30 other top pass catchers that had a year with a situation anywhere near that bad. Without looking I would bet that most of Philly's numbers come from this year and last year. As you said, imagine the numbers Philly would have had with a Troy Smith or Joe Germaine, and surrounded by other offensive threats, and without coaching turnover and ineptitude, plus without a year like that to bring down his averages because the team was lucky enough to complete a Joe Bauserman pass when they weren't running Dave or their best 3rd down play, Braxton on a QB draw.
The claim that Philly is not a difference maker or game changer is not in line with any objective measure, it's subjective. As I stated above it's also selective (and also lacks the kind of perspective that makes the size of the fish you caught grow over the years), and I think this bears repeating: Philly had a 68 yard punt return touchdown in a game where Ohio State managed one offensive touchdown. Without that score there likely wasn't an undefeated season last year. 

Hoody Wayes's picture

Michael Citro:
This Buckeye great was a halfback in Woody's offense. But, perhaps he deserves honorable mention in your post, for this:


bosshawk's picture

Honorable mention HELL?  That plaque you showed sums it up.  Paul Warfield is arguably the greatest receiver in the history of the NFL let alone Buckeye football.  I loved Chris Carter but he was no Paul Warfield.  Blessed with a 40" vertical, 10.3 in the 100 meters.  I never saw him drop a pass (at least I don't recall).  He was a terror as a blocking flanker.  He is the only receiver to average 20 yards per catch over his career in the National Football League.  Paul Warfield is the standard all Buckeye receivers should be measured by.

I don't know what Kenny Guiton has done to get in the OSU doghouse and not be given an opportunity but obviously it was something pretty bad. Come on!  Joe can't do it.  Nothing against Joe but he is not equipped to lead the Buckey

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Great at OSU, even better in the pros (the main reason I became a Dolphins fan as a kid was the Browns trading Warfield).
He had killer speed and could block linebackers (what else would you expect from a guy who played for WWH?)!

Enzo's picture

The down vote had to be a mis-click. 

iball's picture

One could argue Devin Smith is as big of a threat and is as important to the offense as Philly is but his numbers pale in comparison to Philly's. He's just more inclined to make the big play.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

dwcbuckeye's picture

Nice article, but I don't believe Philly is in the same league as some of the OSU greats.  He does a nice job for us and certainly is reliable.  A couple of things:  Most importantly, this offense is nothing like what Carter had when he was in school, or for matter, any of the ones you listed.  Those were primarily run first, pass only when you have to offenses.  Sure there were some exceptions, but mostly, UM offense throws more - and the routes seem shorter.  The second thing is I would like Philly to have more yards after the catch.  He is averaging 12.7 yards per catch this year.  That is up from last year (11.1) but, I don't know, doesn't seem as explosive as some of the others.  He's a good one though for sure, just don't think he is top 10 of all time IMO

Michael Citro's picture

Not sure what I'm watching, but Ohio State appears to me to still be a run-first team and Tom Herman has said he'd run every down if he could. I think if you go back and look again, the Buckeyes threw to Carter, Lanese and the tight ends and fullbacks more than you probably remember.

dwcbuckeye's picture

You could be correct.  A quick review of percent of total plays passing indicates we pass moderately less than in the early 2000s.  I guess it is just a gut feel more than statistical facts.  So I guess to me Philly is more akin to  David Lighty. 

CC's picture

They may still be run first but they are no longer "run only". 

Michael Citro's picture

They weren't run only during the Carter/Lanese years either. And back then you rarely saw 4 or 5 WRs on the field together, so if you were a starting split end or flanker, you were more likely to be targeted on a pass play than you are in 4 or 5 WR sets.

brandonbauer87's picture

You could argue that this is Philly's first year in a functional offense. We didn't throw very much last year.  I would even argue that they still are run first. I think Philly and Sanzenbacher are the best two of the last 8 years. 
The yards per catch aspect is a little misleading also. Philly has spent most of his time at Ohio State running routes that don't lend themselves to yards after the catch. If the talk of focusing on crossing routes comes to fruition, we may see Philly really break out.  He's very good in space, he just doesn't make the sharp cuts like Braxton or Dontre. 

dwcbuckeye's picture

Yes, I agree with this now.  I must be infatuated with the receivers running crossing routes for big gainers.  Style over Substance?
Nice article, it puts his efforts in perspective.

saltybuck61's picture

Very well said. Brown doesn't really catch the ball on the run very often. In fact it seems like 90% of the balls he catches are where he is coming back to the ball. I would love to see him involved in crossing routes more often.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Wow.  Good for Philly Brown.  Never thought he would be in the company of greats mentioned above.  #phillybringsthejuice

Adolphus Washington is half grizzly bear and half dragon | Noah Spence kills quarterbacks, just to watch them die.

Jonnferrell's picture

Also of note, Philly Brown has a legendary goatee.

"I'm still hungry." --Brady Hoke

Nick's picture

Brown has certainly raised his stock but I wouldn't put him in the category of the all time greats we've had at WR. 

hspbuy1's picture

Regardless of how he finishes, he's in some damn good company already. Keep it up Philly!


ibuck's picture

Go Corey, Go! Keep running good routes, snatching the ball and scoring TDs. Make even the people who haven't read this story perceive you as one of OSU's greats.
Go Braxton, tossing the ball where Philly and other OSU players can catch it in stride and earn many yards after the catch! Go UFM & TM, calling more effective passing plays.
Go Buckeye rushers, making the play option pass more effective!
Go Buckeyes! Keep getting better!
Thanks, Michael C, for the stats and method of persuasion.

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

bosshawk's picture

That plaque you showed sums it up.  Paul Warfield is arguably the greatest receiver in the history of the NFL let alone Buckeye football.  I loved Chris Carter but he was no Paul Warfield.  Blessed with a 40" vertical, 10.3 in the 100 meters.  I never saw him drop a pass (at least I don't recall).  He was terror as a blocking flanker.  He is the only receiver to average 20 yards per catch over his career in the National Football League.  Paul Warfield is the standard all Buckeye receivers should be measured by.

I don't know what Kenny Guiton has done to get in the OSU doghouse and not be given an opportunity but obviously it was something pretty bad. Come on!  Joe can't do it.  Nothing against Joe but he is not equipped to lead the Buckey

bosshawk's picture

It is past time for Jack Tatum to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.  I and everyone else feel for the Stingley family but Jack Tatum belongs in the Hall of Fame.  That unfortunate play should not disqualify him from tHOF.  
The Buckeye Nation can give Jack Tatum the honor he rightly deserves.  The "Star" position on Buckeye teams should be known as the "Tatum".  The position was defined by Jack Tatum.  Ask Lou Holtz.  He'll tell you about Jack Tatum.
Hopefully, players vying for that position will recognize the big shoes they must fill.  If they don't know who he was tell them to ask their daddies.   Better yet; tell them this:  "I saw Earl Campbell run over Ronnie Lott.  Earl Campbell never ran over Jack Tatum."

I don't know what Kenny Guiton has done to get in the OSU doghouse and not be given an opportunity but obviously it was something pretty bad. Come on!  Joe can't do it.  Nothing against Joe but he is not equipped to lead the Buckey

ibuck's picture

I believe Woody called the position that Jack Tatum played "monster back." But I wouldn't mind if they called it Tatum, as you suggest, or the Jack (as in the Sam or the Will).

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

bosshawk's picture

I like "Jack".  The "jack back" is nice. " He'll "Jack" you up!"

I don't know what Kenny Guiton has done to get in the OSU doghouse and not be given an opportunity but obviously it was something pretty bad. Come on!  Joe can't do it.  Nothing against Joe but he is not equipped to lead the Buckey

JLP36's picture

Michael Jenkins was a tremendous clutch receiver.  He had some of the most important catches in Buckeye football history.  Numbers cannot quantify his greatness.  He is often over looked or under appreciated.  Also had key punt blocks and punt returns.  It is hard to quantify the big play at the big moment in the big game, but you read some of those names and you can remember the plays being made. 
Brown will get it done if we need it.  Until then, he will continue to do work.


ScarletNGrey01's picture

Will be interesting to see what the soon to come playoff format might do regarding stats on players, at least for a single season.  If I'm not mistaken, two teams will likely end up playing 15 games?

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

Adambob's picture

Philly has been in some of the worst non-call penalties I've ever seen. Every year too. Iowa 2010 he almost gets his head ripped off and no flag. Last years Game, a blatant facemask and nothing. There's more but i can't remember which games.

Gametime's picture

...his lasting impression be that of a steady, solid and consistent contributor — the David Lighty of football?

I think it's more that. Philly is solid and consistent, really good WR. I think that's the difference between CC and PENULT's perspectives.
You can't liken a player "making plays" to a player who is a "big-play guy".
Clutch consistently 3rd down conversions, being a "sudden" guy as far as making something out of nothing or quickly scoring TDs or having the defense geared for stopping you. Boston, Jenkins, Holmes, Ginn, Glenn, etc. those guys had to be game-planned for. 
Philly runs good routes, has good hands, and he's consistent in what he does, but he's not any of the aforementioned.
As a matter of fact, I think Devin Smith who is a proven "Deep-Threat" is/will be the better of the two as the season goes and as Devin takes over as "the guy" his SR year.

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

buckskin's picture

Great stats for Brown.  I had no idea he had that many catches.  I guess you could call him the silent assassin.  Goes to work, gets the job done nice and quiet, then BAM:  punt return for a TD.
It is hard to compare, but Ginn, Glenn, Boston, Holmes, Galloway were more consistent deep threats.  They are also in buckeye lore and every year in our minds they get better and better.  We can say remember when this guy did that or he did this..  We can't do that with Brown yet. 

Buckeye5000's picture

In the past 40+ yrs. of watching Bucks games I would have to put "Philly" in the second or even third tier of all-time Buckeye greats. With a good finish to this year he could be solidly in the second tier.

Go Bucks!

Blue Eyed Buckeye's picture

Philly Brown is fine, he's a fine college receiver.  But this team would be so different if they had a true #1 beast receiver like Keyshawn Johnson, Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon, or Michael Crabtree. 
Philly is just fine but he's not elite.

BuckeyeAtHeart22's picture

Nah, I doubt Keyshawn would make ANY college team better.  He's not that good.

bosshawk's picture

Those receivers you mention have one thing on Philly.  That would be size.  Philly is probably faster than all of those receivers and has shown good hands.  He's getting much better at running routes.  I like Philly and our receiving corps is getting better each game.  Evan, Devin, Philly, Chris, Diontre, and the tight ends are playing extremely well.  I like them a lot.

I don't know what Kenny Guiton has done to get in the OSU doghouse and not be given an opportunity but obviously it was something pretty bad. Come on!  Joe can't do it.  Nothing against Joe but he is not equipped to lead the Buckey

Dougger's picture

he does a good job on run block too

I like football