In Indianapolis, Devin Smith Enters NFL Combine With Lofty Aspirations

By Patrick Maks on February 20, 2015 at 8:35 am

INDIANAPOLIS — In high school, before Devin Smith became the player who coach Urban Meyer once called the best “deep-ball wide receiver" he’s ever had, the former Ohio State star admired Jeremy Maclin, the electrifying Philadelphia Eagles and former Missouri ball-catcher.

“(He) is one guy I kind of model myself after a little bit,” said Smith, who met with a throng of media members Thursday afternoon at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.  “I watched him when I was at Missouri. He was probably the reason I wore No. 9. He’s one of my favorite receivers."

“The thing about him is that when he runs,” Smith continued, “it looks so natural and he runs so smooth that it really looks easy to him.”

The same could be said for Smith, who’s made a living off making big plays for the Buckeyes, who are 22-0 in games where he caught a pass. This was especially true last season, in which Smith caught 931 yards and 12 touchdowns on 33 catches. It was during Ohio State’s postseason run, however, where the 6-foot-1, 190-pound automatic touchdown machine garnered increasing attention of the interested.

In games against Wisconsin (the Big Ten Championship Game), Alabama (the Sugar Bowl) and Oregon (the National Championship), he caught six passes that were at least 39-yard gains. Over the three-game span, Smith compiled 269 yards and four touchdowns on seven catches, which is an average of 38 yards a grab.

Smith’s professional upside seems to be correlated with his big-play potential.  

“That’s what teams need. They need guys who can go and get it. I think I have that ability,” he said. "I’ve shown it plenty of times in college so I’m just going to translate that to the next level.”

This weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium, Smith will have the chance to showcase it once again. He added he wants to run a scorching 40-yard-dash time, too. “Low 4.4s is what I’ve done,” he said, “but I’m trying to hang something in the 4.3 range.”

And while Smith has serious hopes of being a first-round selection he must show scout and executives that he has more in his toolbag than catching the deep ball. He developed a stigma for bouts of inconsistency throughout his career in Columbus. He can either further that notion or dismiss it during on-field drills this weekend.

“It’s very important especially when everybody says all I can do is run go routes,” Smith said. “It’s very important for me to show these coaches that I can run every single route.”

Smith added, "they're getting a guy who can run, is willing to learn, does whatever he can to help the team win no matter if it’s on offense or on special teams.”


Asked about the experience playing for three different starting quarterbacks at Ohio State, Smith said, "when Braxton was here, we kind of ran a lot more than we threw. With J.T. back there, he kind of reminded me of Kenny Guiton. He orchestrated the offense.

"Then with Cardale, he could throw it out there. so I didn’t really have to change much with those guys. I think schematically it was a little different."

Smith added he thought Jones would be Ohio State's starter in 2015. "If I had to guess, I would say Cardale just because his momentum is going uphill right now. But I know coach Meyer is going to do a great job of getting the right person in that position."

On defeating Michigan three years in a row: "It was a great feeling. Losing my freshman year was kind of hard. After that, when we started winning against them, it was a great feeling. I think everyone knows the tradition that goes with that school. Being able to leave that school with three gold pants is very satisfying."

Smith said Harbaugh brings a new edge to the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. "He’s going to try to beat Ohio State. Me personally, I don’t really think it’s going to happen," he said. "That’s not me talking trash. That’s just me being honest. Coach Meyer does a great job with his players and the players respond to him very well. I think they’re headed in the right direction."

On teammate, cornerback and fellow NFL Draft prospect Doran Grant: "Doran Grant is one of the best corners in the Big Ten, if not the nation, in my opinion. He’s very fluid with his hips. That’s my cousin as well. He’s a competitor and he’s very, very strong and he’s fast as well."

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