Braxton's New BFFs: Emerging Receiver Options for 2014

By Jeff Beck on January 20, 2014 at 1:00p
J MarshallLook for Jalin Marshall to contribute in 2014

With the departure of wide receivers Corey Brown and Chris Fields, there is suddenly playing time available for some new blood to haul in passes donning the Scarlet and Gray. Conventional wisdom would say next year’s seniors, Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, will be the team’s best options, but Smith and Spencer have both shown a propensity to disappear at times.

Needless to say the competition will be heating up at wide receiver as Urban Meyer’s recruiting machine has been pulling in speedy edge talent since he arrived in Columbus. If I’m Smith or Spencer, I’m certainly not resting on my laurels.

Here are a few young wide receivers I believe will push Smith and Spencer for playing time.

Jalin Marshall

Marshall was on the squad in 2013, but didn’t see the field due to a redshirt. Holding Marshall out certainly wasn’t a talent issue. The Middletown, OH native was the No. 1 prospect in Ohio and was one of the first to commit in the class of 2013. Marshall played quarterback for Middletown where he rolled up a school-record 4,759 yards over the course of his career including 1,400 yards and 14 TDs as a senior.

Marshall is a burner who is incredibly elusive in the open field. Some who have watched Jalin in practice compare his running style to Braxton Miller (not bad company). Marshall has had an entire season to become acclimated with the offense (incredibly important considering the switch from quarterback to wide receiver), understands what it takes to be a student athlete at Ohio State, and will have two offseasons with Strength Coach Mickey Marotti under his belt before he ever takes the field. Marshall’s chances to be a huge contributor in 2014 look incredibly solid.

Michael Thomas

Shortly after the Orange Bowl, The Confident Michael Thomas let the world know he was unhappy with the WR play in 2013. Thomas will have a chance to back that talk up on the field next season, as he will certainly be a player to watch in 2014. Buckeye Nation first learned of Thomas after an unreal 2012 Spring Game. The then true freshman led all players with 12 catches for 131 yards. The performance was so astounding, Coach Meyer called Thomas “our most dedicated receiver”, after the game.

Unfortunately the unreal Spring didn’t parlay into an outstanding fall. During the 2012 season Thomas was used sparingly to the tune of 3 receptions for 22 yards. In what was a little bit of a surprise, Meyer chose to redshirt Thomas in 2013, opening up an additional year of eligibility for the young gun. As aforementioned, Thomas had something to say about that after the season, but I expect him to channel that frustration into getting better. We already know the kid has hops, hands and height (6’3’’). It’s only a matter of time before he’s doing some amazing things on Saturdays.

JGreeneJeff Greene pre-Buckeye

Jeff Greene

You didn’t hear much about Greene in 2013 as he was forced to sit out via the NCAA’s ridiculous transfer rules, but make no mistake Greene is a competitor. The former Georgia Tech standout lettered in two seasons for the Yellow Jackets, leading the team in 2012 with 18 receptions for 284 yards and 2 TDs. He’s the biggest WR on the Buckeye’s roster at 6’5’’,  218 lbs and has already proven himself at the college level.

In recent years the Buckeyes have lacked a true redzone threat; someone you can toss the ball up to in the back of the endzone. Greene could be that guy. It will be exciting to see how Tom Herman utilizes him in 2014.

James Clark

Clark was a four star prospect out of Florida who was one of the last to commit to the Buckeyes in the 2013 class. He was put in during garbage time of the Florida A&M game and had the bad fortune of breaking his ankle, ultimately ending his season. Luckily Clark was granted a medical redshirt giving him four years of eligibility starting in 2014.

Clark is an absolute burner with a reported 4.45 forty time and a 10.48 100-meter dash. He was recruited by over 25 schools including Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt but ultimately chose the Buckeyes in the 11th hour. During his senior year at New Smyma Beach, he led his team to the state playoffs and was voted as a first-team Florida 6A all-state pick. During his career, he tallied 87 receptions for nearly 2,000 yards and 29 TDs. He’s an incredibly versatile player who I suspect Herman will try to get on the edge during the 2014 season. Much like Dontre Wilson, he’s a player who can make things happen in space. If he gets past you…good luck catching him.

Corey Smith

Smith is the first JUCO prospect to sign with the Buckeyes since Larry Grant in 2006. Coming to Columbus from East Mississippi Community College. The story of Smith’s recruitment is a long and winding one. But Vico did a great job of spelling it all out. Essentially Smith is an amazing talent who originally committed to Tennessee, but had to attend a community college to become academically eligible. The Volunteers head coach at the time, Derek Dooley, planned to hold a scholarship for Smith until he was eligible, but Dooley was let go by Tennessee, ending Smith’s chances of playing down in Knoxville.

Through it all, Smith held down his commitments both in the classroom and on the football field, ultimately earning interest from Mississippi State, Ohio State, Alabama and Hawaii. The No. 9 JUCO prospect in the nation picked the Buckeyes after visiting during the 2012 edition of The Game, and will have three years to complete two seasons of play.

All reports state Smith has excellent hands and is a polished route runner. Much like Greene, he’s already played at the college level and knows what it takes to excel. Vico calls him “what Duron Carter could have been”. If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will.

Johnnie Dixon

Dixon is the only player on this list who wasn’t on the 2013 roster, but that doesn’t mean he wont be able to contribute right away. In fact, I expect it. The four-star prospect out of Florida committed to the Buckeyes just days after five-star LB Raekwon McMillan, helping to soften the blow of losing the B1G championship game.

Dixon was recruited by nearly every major college program. His commitment came down to Ohio State, Alabama and Miami, where WR Coach Zach Smith and Urban Meyer were able to pry Johnnie out of the South. 247Sports lists him as the 16th best receiver in the country and ESPN pegged him at 34th on their ESPN300 list.

Dixon is a legitimate deep threat who runs a 4.5 forty. While he’s not as fast as Dontre Wilson, many believe he will be used both as a receiver out-wide as well as on jet sweeps to help him get the edge. He’s a polished player who has already enrolled at Ohio State, giving him additional time to take a beating from Marotti while becoming acclimated to college life. Look for him on the field in 2014.

Competition at any position is a healthy motivator. The hope is these six players will push Devin Smith and Evan Spencer for playing time in 2014, making the unit better as a whole.



Kevdaddy8's picture

Gotta be honest here...I love our up an coming receivers and think we are absolutely LOADED.  But my bigger concern is whether or not Brax is able to consistently spread the ball around to them so that they can do their thing.  The bigger question is "does Brax take a big enough step toward becoming the kind of passer that makes this group as effective as their talent indicates?"  My call however is that Jeff Green becomes a beastly, manly man for us!

CptBuckeye24's picture

There is plenty of potential in the WR corps.  Now it is time put it all together. 
It is time for someone to step and become a possession WR who is a truly a great route runner who can catch 60 passes this season.  I'm looking at you, Smith and Thomas. 

wyatt's picture

Great players on paper but no games are played on paper.  Getting Braxton to put the ball where it needs to be is also important. Looking forward to which of these guys step up and develop. 

RBuck's picture

Yep, these guys need to pull in anything throw halfway close to them.

Long live the southend.

2014nationalchamps's picture

love the future of the buckeyes. Cant wait to see all Urban recruits on the field.

O-H-I-O  for life

buckguyfan1's picture

Good Lord there is an abundance of talent.

osubuck57's picture

Really pulling for them all to get playing time, but for some reason, Jeff Greene and  James Clark stand out to me. Greene because he ran scout team all year due to transfer rules and Clark because his injury kind of de-railed his season. Think Jalin & Johnnie will be special down the road as well. Position looks bright for sure!!


jamesrbrown322's picture

I don't know about anyone else, but I am more excited to see how Marshall's career pans out than anyone else. I love when stars for the team are homegrown!

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

gm3jones's picture

Like my favorite Maurice Hall...

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

OldColumbusTown's picture

What this team needs from this group is consistency, and hopefully big play ability.  It seems like forever since Ohio State has had a WR who truly was a game-breaking threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches it.  Corey Brown was a great possession receiver with a little wiggle, but he didn't have the escapability or power/agility combination to be that home-run threat every single touch.
I'm hoping a guy like Jalin Marshall could turn out to be the man who is a legitimate threat to break a tackle or two on a WR screen and go the distance.  Someone who defenses must game-plan around and account for, which will only do even more wonders for Braxton and the running game.

mobboss1984's picture

C'mon spring...................................I'm hyped for the future. 

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
Bruce Lee

OSU2002Grad's picture

So Corey Brown and Michael Thomas are my picks to click next year. I'm sure we'll see Jalin doing some things out of the slot as well; but I think Devin and Evan will need to improve dramatically if they want to hold off the young bucks behind them.

dlb72osu's picture

Corey Smith. Both of the Corey Browns' are part of OSU alumni group.

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

- Invictus

Statutoryglory's picture

Details on Evan Spencer's injury? ACL or Broken bone?

tcm1968's picture

Surgery two weeks ago. OSU said "ankle" injury so guessing no ACL/MCL knee stuff.

tcm1968's picture

Should be an interesting spring and 2014 season. Neither Smith or Spencer have shown anything that warrants starting playing time yet and as far as we can tell no one stepped up to take their playing time away from them.
Here's hoping Clark, Greene and Thomas step up and we finally get Braxton a WR for his senior year. He's had to deal with "Percy Harvin" types and track guys trying to play football.
Braxton has had a legit WR for three games ( Posey for 3 games after his suspension). Always admired Philly Brown's heart but talent wise he would have been a 3rd or 4th guy on the depth chart in just about any year prior to the Braxton Miller era.
and FWIW WR position was slipping before he got here but this is a make or break year for Coach Zach Smith imo. Will be his third chance to get "his" guys on the field. So far no one he has recruited has stepped up. Smith, Brown and Spencer all Tressel/Hazell/Drayton guys.

SuperBuckFan08's picture

I'd love to stop calling it the "Percy Harvin" role. I'd much prefer to call it the "-insert dynamic former Buckeye here-" role or even just the "GameBreaker" role

Because I couldn't go for three.   -Woody-

tcm1968's picture

Completely agree, but until an OSU guy becomes that guy Coach Meyer will continue to say we are looking for "Percy Harvin" types. Here's hoping 3 years from now he's saying "Jalin Marshall/Dontre Wilson/Johnnie Dixon/Curtis Samuel" types :)

cinserious's picture

With all this WR talent, none of this even includes Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown, Terry McLaurin. It will be interesting to see how all these pieces fit into the puzzle and if D Smith and Spencer even remain starters.
One other thing I'm excited about is in 2015 J.T. Barrett will be a 3rd year soph with development, maturity, and a little bit of experience. He will also have ALL these above WRs, H-backs, and ATH to disribute the ball to. I'm predicting a NC in 2015. 

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

sharks's picture

Since he redshirted, Corey Smith now has two years left to play two, right?

A man got to have a code...

Hovenaut's picture

Michael Thomas' comments aside, I'm confident in this group finding chemistry and offering results on the field.
Skill positions, with a capital 'S'.

We have filled the Braxton Miller position.

ChazBuckeye's picture

Thomas and Green must play.  It's not how good they are or how bad Spencer and Smith are at playing WR. It's more the need for a taller, deep threat player who can stretch the field in a spread offense that's been mainly 80% run (either by design or not with Brax360). IMHO, this is what's currently missing from making OSU's offense unstoppable (that and of course utilizing the TE more...that's plagued OSU for years).  I believe the slot/H position should be filled easily with Wilson of course, Marshall, Samuel, and McLaurin.  Personally I think McLaruin and Samuel will get playing time.  Especailly if McLaurin puts on some weight. However I could see Samuel for sure seeing time as a frosh in some capacity.   

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

ChillitownBuck30's picture

I truly believe Jalin Marshall is the one to pay attention to.  This kid has it all.  If he has developed mentally for the college level he is going to do some damage.  I have been excited about his potential since day 1.

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”

BoFuquel's picture

I see Brax running the ball more this season. It's Ohio State that's what we do. He's undefeated in November for the last two seasons. It ain't broke so..... GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

hudsonsamuel's picture

put marshall at qb

What you are speaks so loud,I can't hear a word you say.

BenArazi4's picture

He would probably be an upgrade




gm3jones's picture

NO to both! So you are suggesting replacing a three year starter with the following stats:
2013: Passing-- 162-255 (63.5%) 2094 yds (8.4 avg) 24 tds 7 int 158.1 rating.. Rushing-- 171 for 1068 (6.2 avg) 12 tds
2012 passing- 148-254 (58.3%) 2039 yds (8.0 avg) 15 tds 6 int 140.5 rating.. Rushing 227 for 1271 yards 13 tds
2011 Passing-- 85-157 (54.1%) 1159 (7.4 avg) 13 tds 4 int 138.4 rating.. Rushing 159 for 715 yards and 7 tds
Notice the rushing attempts are done, compeltion % is up, tds up, rating up, higher yards per rush and same rushing TDs. So he is running less for similar amount of yards and TDs. And he get better every year.
Now Marshalls stats at QB:

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

Crimson's picture

Hey!  You forgot to post Marshall's stats!

gm3jones's picture

That is because he doesn't have any NCAA stats available.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

Crimson's picture

I can't believe you felt the need to respond.  SMH

chirobuck's picture

Didn't Marshall win the state championship in the high jump and took like 3rd in the long jump....when he really learns the WR position who knows how high his ceiling will be 


^ best post ever ^

dvalentine7's picture

I think the WR's will be just fine, the bigger question to me is will Miller have to continue to scramble for his life. I can't see how people said we have one of the best lines in the country and out pass protection was horrendous and when Miller is scramble our WR's should have enough awareness to break a route off that would be amazing to see IMO

bassplayer7770's picture

Is it just me, but didn't Miller mostly "scramble for his life" when he was sitting in the pocket too long?  Even a good O Line can't block all day.

steveoz49's picture

The young horses in the stable will definitely push the upper classmen, there's no doubt.  I wouldn't be one bit surprised to see the youngsters beat out the upper classmen.  You can already sense the buzz and excitement these young men are bringing with them.  Let's do this!!!!!!

dvalentine7's picture

Bassplayer7770 your right he did stand in the pocket too long I will give you that but when he snaps the ball and his whole line is back there in the backfield with him is a problem to me 

BenArazi4's picture

Miller had plenty of time, he's a natural runner so he naturally starts to dance around when he feels pressure.  He does not feel comfortable standing in the pocket and delivering a pass if the receiver isn't open by ten yards, I really hope he progresses but he's had 3 years... stats aside Miller is a very average QB.  Great athlete and great runner, but we need a QB who can distribute, otherwise its useless having all that talent at WR.