Jeff Greene and the Re-Emergence of the Big Buckeye Wide Receiver

By Jeff Beck on March 3, 2014 at 1:00p
Jeff Greene Getting It Done

Former Georgia Tech wide-receiver turned Buckeye, Jeff Greene, is a big kid. Coming in at 6-foot-5, 218 pounds he was a tough draw for any cornerback in the ACC. Perhaps his size had something to do with his team leading 18 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. Then a sophomore, Greene proved he was a viable weapon despite a Yellow Jacket offense far more content to hand it off then fling it down-field.

Forced to sit out last season, Greene had a calendar year to learn the Scarlet and Gray offense while playing a vital role on the scout team. Now the wait is over and Buckeye Nation will finally get a look at what Greene can do.

When studying players on paper (particularly wide receivers), it’s hard not to get excited about a guy with 6’5’’ size. Immediately the term “red-zone” threat is tossed around, and why not? Plenty of lengthy wide receivers have made a career of high-pointing the ball in the back of the endzone, but the really good ones are so much more than that. In looking at the NFL’s top wide receivers of 2013, one thing immediately jumps off the page: height. The average length of the players in the linked-to list is 6’3’’, with guys like Calvin Johnson (6’5’’), A.J. Green (6’4’’), Brandon Marshall (6’4’’) and Vincent Jackson (6’5’’) leading the pack in terms of tall.

Those players can leap, but they can also beat their man downfield, proving that big doesn’t always mean slow. With the most successful wide receivers in the NFL coming in collectively around 6’3’’, you’d think Ohio State would look to field players with roughly the same metrics. But, that simply hasn’t been the case.

J Greezy
Looking to translate practice field swag to gameday.

Over the past decade only two receivers over 6’3’’ have made a significant contribution for the Buckeyes (over 25 catches in a season). Depending on who you ask, Brian Robiske is listed as 6’4’’, while Jeff Heuerman (6'6'') had 26 catches last season.

This isn’t to say the Scarlet and Gray haven’t had success with shorter receivers. Players like Santonio Holmes( 5’11’’) Ted Ginn (5’11’’), Dane Sanzenbacher (5’11’’) Devier Posey (6’0’’) and Anthony Gonzalez (6’0’’) were monsters despite their stature. But, there’s a sense Buckeye fans are thirsting for the next big thing (quite literally). Jeff Greene could be it.

You’d have to go back to Michael Jenkins in 2003 to find the most recent comparison in terms of size. Jenkins was listed at 6’4’’ 214 pounds and used his frame to get whatever he wanted. From 2001-2003 he led the team in receptions, he ranks No. 1 in terms of receiving yards in a career (2,898), No. 3 in passes caught in a career (165), No 4 in receiving yards in a season (1,076) and No. 5 in total receptions in a season (61).

In 2002, he played a vital role for the National Championship Buckeyes, making more than a couple plays that will go down as “clutch” personified.

Those are large shoes to fill for Greene, but the comparison is being made because he’s the first Buckeye receiver in years that’s big enough to fill them. Greene will get a shot to prove what he can do this season and he’ll be one of the only players in the room with an intangible you can’t teach. Learning to use his size as an advantage should be a major focus for Greene this offseason. If he’s successful, Braxton Miller will have a huge target in 2014.


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TUNBUCK89's picture

Man, I don't want to be in Urban Meyr's or Tom Herman's shoes. So many weapons, just one ball. Where do you go with it ?

+5 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

I get what you're saying, but I think most coaches would rather have #buckeyeproblems vs not having the talent.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+5 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture

Oh...I absolutey agree with you. As long as the coaches find a way to keep some very talented kids happy & motivated.

Poison nuts's picture

No doubt. Ideally, if every play was executed perfectly, you'd never have a problem having too many weapons. OSU would score tons of points & no one could come close to competing...but yeah, in reality - it will be a problem getting plays to everyone who should get the ball. I guess that's a good problem to have & one I'm looking forward to seeing how they solve it.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

+1 HS
hudsonsamuel's picture

To the one the produces.


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

PittBuckeye's picture

As long as they go somewhere other than designed QB draw I don't care.

OvalBeachBum's picture

Its been a while since we've had a receiver that could consistently ( I said consistently here) go up and win jump balls and be a legitimate red zone threat.  Im just really hoping that all this hype actually presents itself on the field next year...

"Well, thats just like, your opinion, man."  -The Dude

+7 HS
rkylet83's picture

We seriously need to start recruiting guys like this.  

+2 HS
route4buckeye's picture

We have. Just haven't reeled them in.

+1 HS
buckskin's picture

Along with the smaller burners, we need a guy or two on our roster like this.  Big, rangy, long receivers who can go up and get the ball and create match up nightmares.  Heck we even put TP in for a pass in the end zone against Texas and that worked pretty well.

Nutinpa's picture

Agree with this and was thinking the same thing about that Texas game. Nice to see with Greene and M Thomas the Buckeyes will have some height and range to go along with the smurfs that have populated the WR core in recent years.

Of course, for this to pay off, Miller will have to be accurate enough to put the ball where only the taller WRs can get the ball. And you can bet NFL scouts will be watching for his ability to throw the long ball and the "touch pass" accurately...something until now he hasn't been able to do.  The sooner he connects with these guys and burns teams who load the box, the better off this offense will state the obvious.

+1 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture

Agreed.  We have speedy, shifty, burners all over the field.  We need a couple guys like Green to do work outside that hashes and go up and get balls.  Open up the field.

+2 HS
buckeyecityterror's picture

Can't leave Josh Gordon off that list. Led the league in yards. Huge target.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

+3 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Mike Jenkins immediately came to mind before coming upon his name midway through the article. He did pretty well - I remember a fourth and fourteen situation in this one game.

I'm good with Devin Smith, along with some of the other talent in the WR corps. But the duo of Greene and Michael Thomas adds a little more vert to the pass game.

+2 HS
MikeEagleBuckeye's picture

How many years of eligibility does Greene have left?

+1 HS
buckeyepastor's picture

I'm excited to see what receivers emerge, and Greene sounds like he passes the look test.   But Stoneburner was one that seemed like a match-up nightmare that never really became all I expected.  Not to mention TY Williams and Verlon Reed.   But at least Greene has some solid college experience to his credit.   If he, Mike Thomas, and Jalin Marshall can all step up this year, it will really be fun.   I like Devin Smith, he's a great deep ball threat and is growing in that intangible of just finding a way to get separation.   But we need a couple of others that really give a defense headaches.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+1 HS
Nutinpa's picture

With regard to Stoney, Reed and TY.....while all of them had their issues, it can't be forgotten that all of them had the dumpster-fire 2011 season to contend with. Then....we started anew with Herman, Meyer and Miller in 2012.  While Miller was vastly improved in 2012, he was still a much bigger threat with his legs than his arm. All of those things conspired to dampen the output of the WRs you mention and the composite passing stats of Ohio State football since the 2010 season.  

hit_the_couch's picture

Tallest Buckeye receiver in years? Ty WIlliams was 6'5" and was just kicked off the team a year or ago.

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

+1 HS
FitzBuck's picture

I think he was referring to relevant or contributing WR's.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+2 HS
German Buckeye's picture

All this is good if and only if Braxton throws the ball to them, that has been as much an issue as anything.  How many times were our "short" receivers wide open last season yet Brax didnt go thru progressions and hit them? 

+4 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture

Perhaps being 6'-5" will help Braxton identify him being wide open earlier and more easily than all these shrimpy WRs.

+1 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

they were open but unless he had a open passing lane he couldn't get the ball to them bc it would be batted down.  until he learns to throw with touch rather than throwing like he has to throw it through a brick wall his short game passing won't improve

JohnnyKozmo's picture

Braxton needs to make a huge step in reading defenses.  If that happens, spreading the ball around should take care of itself.  Urban's offense is all about creating mismatches and space for the playmakers by making the defense account for a mobile QB.  Too many times, it was look to Philly Brown, then take off if wasn't open.  Just about every play has some sort of play action, so progressing through his reads quickly (a la Kenny G) will result in the ball finding it's way to everyone.  I don't think we'll see a 60+ catch, 1000yd season from a WR, but hopefully will see 5-7 guys around 30-40 catches and 500+yds.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+1 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Boy, wouldn't it be great to see it all click?!

I'm always proud to be a Buckeye, but what if...  What if...?

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

“But wouldn’t it be nice.”
-Amazing Grace Smith

sivaDavis's picture

Mike Thomas and Jeff Greene have the size and talent, but can they take that next big step and do what's asked of them: block. Imagine being in the redzone, having Dontre and EzE in the backfield, Jalin Marshall in the slot, Jeff Greene on one side, Mike Thomas on the other. Pick your poison. 

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+3 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Alex, I'll take a touchdown for a $1000.00!

+3 HS
Crimson's picture

Mike Thomas and Jeff Greene have the size and talent, but can they take that next big step and do what's asked of them: block.

Mike was pretty good his freshman year, and Jeff is from Georgia Tech.  Enough said.

+4 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

Jeff Greene's 18 catches with the Yellow Jackets in 2012 represented 17.6 percent of all completions for GT that year. Comparatively, if a receiver had caught 17.6 percent of Ohio State's completions in 2013, that would have come out to 42 catches. In a pass happy offense, 17.6 percent would translate into over 55 catches.

So, Greene had pretty good production for a sophomore at GT.

+5 HS
Jbucks's picture

How fast is Greene?.... TOO MANY WEAPONS BUT ONLY 1 BULLET, I want Mike Thomas on the field this year I want Dontre Wilson on the field, I want Dixon on the field, I want Samuel on the field, I want Smith too do more than run straight when on the field, I want Spencer to double his relevence on the field!! If this kid Greene is only back of the endzone talent I want him on the field...I love Meyer as a coach... do not envy his situation... never have I heard of a guy losing his marbles over trying to spread the ball around on offense... it could very well happen this year

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

+1 HS
nburns18's picture

We gotta get the ball to Greene. Especially since our receiving corps seems to be one of our biggest question marks headed into spring ball. I think he'll step up. Mike Thomas will do the same thing now that Evan Spencer is out for the spring

"You win with people." -Woody Hayes

ChazBuckeye's picture

Greene and Thomas will be starters by MSU.  Bank it!

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.

Go1Bucks's picture

My sadness is only the thought that he had to sit out last season, when he should not have.  What could have been is my lament, along with last minute loses in both the B1G Championship and Bowl Game, neither of which should have happened and probably wouldn't have with a tarrget such as Greene and a better offensive game plan. BTW, a hurry up offense requires throwing the ball, as we did for a whole 4 or 5 games with Kenny G, not with Braxton.  Hope he learned over the offseason.  Hope Meyer did too.

 Onward and upward, I predict another undefeated season on our horizon.

Go Bucks!

-2 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Can't wait to see him in action.  I think he's going to be a great one when it is all said and done.

Go Bucks!!

youngcroc's picture

We have a lot of weapons next year to choose from but if braxton's not getting them the ball it will be all for nothing.

+2 HS
m5987usus's picture



+1 HS
teddyballgame's picture

I hope Brax throws for like 3k+ next year.  I'd be fine with him only rushing for like 500.

+1 HS
countrybuckeye's picture

Amen Teddyballgame!

"Momma told me there would be days like this."

luckynutz's picture

After the comments he made about all the shots hes taken over the years, I'd be surprised to see him tote the rock anywhere near the number of times he did this year or last. The coaches are aware of two things: Braxton propensity to get nicked up throughout the season and that Kenny g isnt coming off the bench this year when he does. So I believe they will work hard at calling less designed runs, work with him on trusting his backs and diversifying the passing game. I just dont see urban and herman putting him in situations where hes carrying the ball 15+ times a game. Especially not early in the year.

+2 HS
HaVy NuTs's picture

Im excited for the competition at the position this spring. Definitely like the idea of having a bigger guy at wide out to help us out inside the 20. I do think we need some fresh meat in the mix and with the youth we have I think many people will get their opportunity. I wouldn't be mad at all if Evan Spencer or Devin Smith stepped up and produced the way they should as upper classmen to this team. But it will def be interesting.....looking forward to watching the Spring to see how some of it unfolds

+1 HS
gobucks96's picture

Can he catch the ball when it counts is my question... We've had a few lately that seem to disappear when needed most.

+2 HS