The North-South Classic is an opportunity for Ohio’s finest seniors to put their high school helmets on one last time and compete at Ohio Stadium. Most players are just months away from moving to their new collegiate destinations, but Saturday, five future Buckeyes felt right at home in ‘Shoe.
The group got plenty of action on the field, but wide receiver Devin Smith of Massillon Washington High School stood out with three big receptions, including a 26-yard touchdown reception on a deep slant. The touchdown was the lone score for the North squad, which fell, 25-7, to the South.
Smith’s big day prompted future teammate Chase Farris, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive end from Elyria High School, to reveal the nickname given to Smith by his teammates.
“We call him the undiscovered truth,” Farris said with a big smile. “He wasn’t ranked all that high (by recruiting services), but he can play.”
Farris played end for the South team, opposite Steve Miller of Canton McKinley High School. Miller said he enjoyed the experience and getting to spend time with Farris over the week.
“It was fun. We had a lot of bonding time this week,” Miller said. “He’s a great kid.”
After the game, Smith laughed when his nickname was mentioned, but he did affirm the importance of having a big day in the ‘Shoe.
“It means a lot,” Smith said. “A lot of guys underrate me and think that I’m not that great of a football player compared to other guys that are top-ranked. My main focus was to come in here, have fun and show everyone I can play the game of football.”
Smith said he is well-aware of the opportunity at the receiver position — with the graduation of Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey suspended for five games — and that he is working hard to come in and compete.
Tight end Nick Vannett from Westerville Central High School, also a future Buckeye, got on the scoreboard in the second half when he twisted backward to snag a two-point conversion catch in the front of the end zone.
Vannett later went up for a pass against cornerback and fellow Buckeye signee Doran Grant of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Grant batted the ball away, drawing some jawing that Vannett said was in good nature.
“He is one of the best cornerbacks in the nation, so it was a real challenge going up against him,” Vannett said. “He probably won the battle but it was great getting to go against one of my future teammates like that.”
Vannett, along with the other four future Buckeyes, said he plans on continuing to work hard in the weight room and getting ready for the next chapter at OSU. Vannett said he needs to get stronger so he can improve his blocking.
With summer practices only months away, Smith said the week of further familiarization with his future teammates was uniting.
“Doran is my cousin, so I’ve known him well,” he said. “But being here this week really got us together. We had a great time, clowned a lot and it was just a great experience.”