NCAA FB

Buckeyes wide-outs no longer area of concern

Share This Story

   
 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)

A year ago they shared space in coach Urban Meyer's doghouse.

Now Ohio State's wide receivers are team leaders.

Inexperienced and unproven in 2012, they're veterans this time around.

It's a question of maturity, assistant coach Zach Smith said of the improvement in his charges.

''Just a year ago I told everyone that it was a young group that needed to grow up and kind of develop and get better. That's something they've done,'' he said after Saturday's practice. ''Fast forward a year and they've had trials, tribulations, had hard times, had great successes, and so they have grown and learned from mistakes to the point where they're able to be a mature group.''

They've come a long way.

Meyer didn't hide his feelings about the pass-catchers in the spring of 2012, his first time on the field with them after taking the job.

He said they didn't work hard enough. He said they weren't prepared. He said there were no big-play guys in the lot.

Smith conceded that the coaching staff was ''almost in panic mode'' at the receivers' inability to stretch the field, to even run routes or be a viable option in Meyer's spread attack.

Gradually, they came around.

Corey Brown had 60 catches, Devin Smith 30 and Evan Spencer 12 last year as a problem area became a strength. They proved they could make big plays, such as Smith's memorable one-handed grab early in the year and his 39-yard gain in the final minute that helped preserve Ohio State's perfect season against Purdue.

More of the same will be expected this year.

Instead of wondering who'll make a big catch, it seems quarterback Braxton Miller now has several possibilities.

''We've got a lot of guys on this team with speed,'' Devin Smith said. ''That's what (coach Meyer) wants - guys who can stretch the field. We've certainly got that.''

If 2012 was a trial by fire, the upcoming one is simpler, more comfortable for them all.

''It's so much smoother. Everybody's flowing faster,'' said Spencer, son of former Ohio State and NFL running back and assistant coach Tim Spencer. ''We all know what our assignments are and we're reacting instead of trying to think. That's the biggest thing we've improved on since last year. It's really going to help us out this year.''

In camp 12 months ago, the receivers were just trying to stay out of Meyer's icy glare. This year they're expecting big things.

''You can tell when we're out there, that even some guys last year who didn't quite know the playbook are now out there playing more comfortable and guys are playing a lot faster,'' Brown said. ''This year you can expect our offense to just shoot up the charts if we keep doing what we're doing and try to eliminate the silly mistakes. We can be one of the top offenses in the country.''

Chris Fields is a prime example of how things have turned around for the ends.

He was almost lost on the depth chart, seldom contributing or being asked to, before he snagged a pass almost off the turf for a touchdown with 3 seconds left in the Purdue game to help force overtime.

Now he's considered a sage who is helping the younger guys come around.

He's aware of Meyer's change of heart from a year ago, too.

''He's definitely giving us more compliments than last year, for sure,'' he said, laughing. ''For sure. Yeah, he's very pleased.''

---

Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP

Tagged: Purdue, Ohio, Braxton Miller, Evan Spencer, Zach Smith, Ohio State

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash