Ohio State Counting Heavily on Devin Smith's Development in 2014

By Michael Citro on March 13, 2014 at 1:15p

It’s hard to believe, but Devin Smith is going to be a senior next year.

It seems like Smith just arrived as a fresh-faced frosh from Washington High in Massillon. But this fall Smith will take the field as Ohio State’s most experienced wide receiver.

The speedy Smith is coming off a career-best 2013 season, in which he set career highs in receptions (44), yards (660), and touchdowns (8). He trailed only Philly Brown in all three categories, and only Jeff Heuerman (17.9) topped his 15-yard average per catch.

Oh, and he also set a school record with a 90-yard touchdown reception in Week 3 at California.

Although Smith already has his share of highlight-reel plays as a Buckeye, there is still a lot of work to be done. Ohio State’s receiving corps hasn’t quite reached the level in recent seasons as in years past. There have been some good players who have come and gone, but there hasn’t been a Terry Glenn, Joey Galloway or David Boston among them.

Smith started to become more than just a deep threat in 2013. His blistering go routes were augmented with curls, screens and slants. But getting separation on shorter routes requires more guile and technique than just blowing past defenders with Smith’s track speed. That’s one area of Smith’s game that must continue to be developed by receivers coach Zach Smith.

Smith’s continued development is even more important when you consider the inexperience behind him. Aside from Evan Spencer, who will be coming back from injury, Ohio State returns pure wide receivers totaling only 24 catches — 22 by Spencer and one each by Frank Epitropoulos and Kato Mitchell.

Always hush, Michigan. Always hush.
Smith still has a few critics to silence in 2014.

Hybrid/slot Dontre Wilson added 22 receptions, most of which were essentially forward handoffs.

So the receiving spot will be young and unproven, albeit talented. Transfers Corey Smith (Grand Rapids C.C.) and Jeff Greene (Georgia Tech) will help offset that inexperience, but Smith is still the cheese who stands alone as the only proven commodity for Ohio State with 2014 approaching.

Smith is certainly capable. His career marks of 88 receptions, 1,572 yards and 18 touchdowns have him on pace to finish among Ohio State’s career leaders.  Just duplicating his junior year numbers would put him well inside the top 10 in school history in all three categories. He’s already there for touchdowns (seventh).

Smith could easily end up second on the touchdown list, since he only needs 10 to pass Cris Carter and reach that mark, but he’d need 17 to pass Boston for the all-time record. An 800-yard season would get him inside the top five Buckeyes. It would take 58 receptions to pass Brown for fifth on the school list.

But without Philly on the field, Smith will have to work harder than ever to get open. He’ll likely see the opposition’s best cover corner every week.

At least he’ll have three seasons of experience in his pocket when he lines up.


Comments Show All Comments

Hovenaut's picture

He was brilliant at times, seemed like he was missing in action in others. If he's consistent this fall, Devin Smith could turn in a fantastic season at WR.

There are plenty of variables - his continued development, effective ball distribution, impact of the new players at other skill positions, etc - but I like his chances.

+6 HS
rkylet83's picture

As much as it would be nice to see Devin Smith step up, I think we'll have to depend on a new face to be "the guy" to create match up problems.  Smith is fast and has good leaping ability, but his size allows him to get pushed around by more physical corners and safeties.  I think guys like Michael Thomas and Jeff Greene will have to be a huge factors if we don't want to see repeats of MSU when we face teams with elite, physical secondaries.  I think Devin Smith translates as a slot receiver in the NFL.

+4 HS
OfficerRabbit's picture

I still think Jeff Green is going to blow up this season. Talk about a guy with motivation to get on the field early. I'm also hoping Mike Thomas can make a solid contribution this year. 



+1 HS
USMC11917's picture

Hey, I am pulling for you Devin, but to sit around and expect something that we haven't seen in all of the years you have been here would be foolish. I will be pleasantly surpirised and cheer loudly for you if you can be reliable and dependable for every game of the season instead of just realing in a few sensational catches and disappearing during the more crucial games. I remember Wisconsin and I remember California but that is such a small sample. Good luck to you this year...signed "The Corps"

+2 HS
Michael Citro's picture

In fairness, his numbers have improved every year of his career. Could blow up simply by becoming the No. 1 option instead of No. 2/3 because progressions.

seafus26's picture

Devin is one of the guys that is exciting given the ball is thrown so they don't have to slow up or adjust. We caught glimpses of that between him and Kenny G

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

+1 HS
teddyballgame's picture

The highlights from the CAL game last year were impressive.  Kenny placed it perfect for him to not have to break stride...


+2 HS
seafus26's picture

Indeed. Granted it was Cal, but it was a road game, not having starter reps for a couple of years like our starter currently has, and without the aid of an eventual top NFL pick in the backfield with him.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

nm_buck's picture

Road game?  Did you see the stands?

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

+3 HS
ronbizi's picture

Watching the highlight, I've never seen Braxton as accurate as Kenny G was in that game.  It obviously sounds like a knock on Miller, but I mean no ill intent.  It was beautiful to see the reads and touch on the ball with those passes.

+2 HS
GVerrilli92's picture


I was always in the Braxton camp, but I am very surprised that we refused to work in a dual QB system at times. It's curious especially because of the success Urb experienced with it in Gainesville.

There were simply runs that Braxton could make that KG couldn't, and I think there were passes KG could make that Brax couldn't. That said, #5 has more upside as a passer still because of the uncoachable release speed and arm strength. To think what he could be if he really came out with some mental resolve and savvy this year.

That and we gotta get him to feather it at times.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

After watching that highlight again I was under the belief that we were instant offense all season long - just add water. Don't get me wrong we really played well at times offensively but it was frustrating when we had so many holes defensively. 

cunneda's picture

Potential just means you haven't done it yet, and he hasn't.......he must lose that tendency to disappear in games, or one of the new guys behind him will really make him disappear.



BroJim's picture

I don't care who steps up this season but someone has to. With a new O line the ball will be coming out of Miller's hand fast, someone has to get open.

I season my simple food with hunger

MikeEagleBuckeye's picture

Smith will always be remembered, at least in my opinion, for that insane grab against Miami at the beginning of the 2012 season.  What was the official injury for Spencer?  Looked pretty nasty in the Orange Bowl.

+2 HS
Ericgobucks's picture

Looks like most people feel the way I do...I like Devin and recognize his talent, but can't understand how he disappears at times. His biggest catch in my opinion wasn't the highlight reel catch against Miami of Ohio, but rather the go route that put us up in East Lansing to help keep the streak alive. I do know one thing, he's got some young pups nipping at his heels. Devin needs to become more than a burner for long bombs once ever 3 games. Devin, I'm pulling for you and want you to be successful. 

TUNBUCK89's picture

Devin, w've all seen that you can make the tough catches. Pleae make the easy ones.

+2 HS
BUCKfutter's picture

High variance of possibility here.  I think he could go for 1,000 yards next season.  I also think there is a less likely but very real possibility he's not a starter come fall.

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

Nutinpa's picture

And don' t forget the CATCH he made to win the game vs. Wisky in 2011 when we were in dire straits!!!


nburns18's picture

He seems to be just a deep threat. When it comes to a standard route he barely ever gets the ball. He's going to have to learn to develop his possession game now thats philly is gone 

"You win with people." -Woody Hayes

ScarletNGrey01's picture

I'm sure he'd like (along with the rest of Buckeye Nation) to take it up a couple of notches and become an elite receiver.  Some WRs are good in the slot and in the seams, some run the deep routes well, some are good at the intermediate shake and bake routes.  I think a receiver has to find his identity and the coaching staff needs to utilize them in the right way.  Yeah ... I'm going for the Mr. Obvious Man award.

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

+2 HS
Patriot4098's picture

Upvote for realizing it and making the 'Mr Obvious' call out on yourself. I'm amused.

"Evil shenanigans!"     - Mac

Geraffi's picture

I think consistent QB play and play calling are also factors that will either allow or deny Smith to blow up the year. 

alust2013's picture

I think he will have a solid season, likely comparable to or better than last year. One thing that's always confused me about him though is his ability to both make some of the most ridiculous catches and drop the ones that are perfectly timed and thrown. Gotta fix that. Or just tell Miller to give him a challenge every time lol.

...and Michigan still sucks.

TraptnMI's picture

I didn't know anything about Kato Mitchell before i saw him on the field. The dude is quick as snot and reminds me of Jeremy Gallon. A very good slot option. You have consistant catching the ball abilities or you don't. I don't know how you go about improving hand eye coordination. Best of luck Devin.

" It's real good whatcha done Anthony, real good ! "

zhamilton05's picture

58 catches, 800 yards, and 10 TD's sounds good to me...since those are the numbers mentioned above to get Smith into position on tOSU's all-time charts. Less yards per catch is to be expected, since Devin will likely be targeted on more of those short, safety-valve type of horizontal throws that Philly Brown got the last two years. It inflates the number of catches but drags down the average.

Horvath22's picture

I'm with you, Z.

MoEddieRobtCarlosBeanie's picture

We can all play the blame game if we want, and we call all point our fingers in different directions, but our defensive backs and wide receivers were abysmal in 2013. 

In order for me to get excited about familiar faces at those two positions, I need to see marked improvement in the first 3 games this season.

We need possession receivers, we need route runners, and we need a QB that can check it down and zip the ball in to move the sticks.

I leave it up to the best coach in college football to figure out if our QB can be a pass first guy. If he can't, let's not have an identity crisis on offense back there. Let's get creative and have three 1,000 yd rushers this year.

Seattle Linga's picture

So excited to watch this offense develop over the next 10 months.

BeijingBucks's picture

The current Buckeye situation is admittedly riveting must see TV.  The doubts of who will it be on offence are just as thrilling as the doubts of whether there will be anyone on defence...  such an exciting time to watch the chase!

sometimes I feel this is more exciting than if we had all returning seniors and were the heir apparent for the national title!  Gotten excited about recruiting like never before and now so eager to see the young kids step up and contribute.  I like the slow build of a juggernaut legacy rather than just a quick flash in the pan and slow decline.

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

OSUGoBucks414's picture

Any receiver for the Buckeyes can be outstanding, given we have a qb who can throw accurate passes, which Miller cannot 100% of the time. Miller is a great QB, possibly the best in the 2015 graduating class in the country, but he is the definition of the spread offense, which doesn't involve a whole lot of passing, especially since we have a loaded backfield. (that might be an understatement)

RB Depth Chart:

1 Ezekiel Elliot

2 Rod Smith

3 Bri'onte Dunn/Curtis Samuel

4 Warren Ball

Since Dontre Wilson is a pivotal/hybrid/slot back, he will most likely be on the other side of Miller during shotgun formation or sometimes pistol. Curtis Samuel should be playing the same role/position as Jalin Marshall/Dontre Wilson. Since Marshall will be out 4-6 weeks for a arthroscopic knee surgery, which could delay his playing time.

I'm not trying to win popularity poles, I'm trying to win football games. -Woody Hayes