Most Important Buckeyes: No. 13
By Patrick Maks
COLUMBUS — If it weren’t for hauling in a nearly inconceivable, 40-yard Hail Mary heave in the final seconds of Ohio State’s 33-29 upset against Wisconsin, the name Devin Smith might not ring quite the bell it does today.
Photo by Dan Harker
One of a handful of freshmen thrown into the fire last year, the sophomore wide receiver from Massillon, Ohio was, at times, a ray of light in an often-abysmal offense. Under first-year coach Urban Meyer, all signs indicate that Smith will need to turn glimpses of greatness into a habit in 2012.
That’s why Smith comes in at No. 13 on our countdown of Top 20 Most Important Buckeyes of the 2012 season.
What Makes Him Important?
Everything. No, seriously—everything.
For the time being, Smith is the only one of the Buckeyes’ receivers to prove he can be a “sure thing” when the ball comes his way.
Knowing that Smith will catch what’s thrown his way (and, likely make a play with it) should mean that sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller will target his teammate early and often. It’s logical—though, not scientific—to think that Miller feels comfortable playing catch with Smith.
Fresh out of high school, Smith played in all 13 of OSU’s games last year and was one of three receivers to lead the team with 14 receptions (hold the jokes, please). The sophomore also led the Buckeyes with 294 receiving yards and four touchdowns (again, hold the jokes).
While Smith’s numbers are mediocre at best, his lack of statistical glory is hardly his own fault and probably not the best way of gauging things to come.
The sophomore’s potential is off the charts, and Buckeyes fans saw that throughout the ups and downs of 2011.
It’s also probably worth mentioning that Smith is arguably one of the best all-around athletes on the roster considering the kid is also a member of OSU’s men’s track and field team, trying his hand at the long jump, high jump and running the 100-meter dash.
What can be expected of him?
Photo by Jim Davidson
Smith should be the Buckeyes’ go-to receiver this fall.
Under Meyer’s new offense, the Buckeyes will almost certainly pass more than they did last season.
Really, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Smith is given less opportunity than last year. The sophomore was bound to an offense that bordered on comical some Saturdays and, in Meyer’s system, Smith should at least double his receiving yards compared to last year.
Smith has the potential to be a star and has the whole athletic-toolbox going for him and that hasn’t been lost on Meyer.
On Monday, the coach called Smith’s second of many practices this August a “great day, a really great day.”
“My gosh do we need someone like that,” Meyer said.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him?
This question is always hard to answer because it deals so much in “what-if” situations.
The loss of Smith would be a blow but not necessarily a devastating one. To be fair, the sophomore is not Michael Jenkins or Santonio Holmes.
Not yet, at least.
It’s also a stretch to shelve him on the same level as former wide DeVier Posey or Dane Sanzenbacher right now.
While Smith had dazzling moments like his catch against the Badgers and a two touchdown performance in a blowout win against Colorado, he hasn’t necessarily proven—or been given the chance to prove—that he can be consistently be someone the Buckeyes rely for the duration of an entire season.
Smith, though, has every reason to believe he can be a star.
And under Meyer, he might just be in the right place at the right time to make that happen.
Most Important: No. 14 Corey Brown
Most Important: No. 15 Jordan Hall
Most Important: No. 16 Christian Bryant
Most Important: No. 17 Reid Fragel
Most Important: No. 18 Ben Buchanan
Most Important: No. 19 Michael Bennett
Most Important: No. 20 Drew Basil
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