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The Freshman Connection

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

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Ohio State football’s current freshman class might hold a go-to offensive duo that Buckeye Nation could enjoy for years to come in quarterback Braxton Miller and wide receiver Devin Smith.

Miller and Smith have combined for three touchdowns through the Buckeyes’ first four games, and at least one OSU coach expects the first-year duo’s productivity to continue.

In both players’ first game in Scarlet and Gray on Sept. 3 against Akron, Miller found Smith in the end zone late in the contest for his first career touchdown pass. Smith’s catch, which went for 14 yards, was his first career touchdown as well.

The two freshmen didn’t stop there.

On Saturday against Colorado, Miller linked with Smith on a 32-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

Smith described that play as “too easy” for he and Miller.

“(Colorado) played a little outside on me,” Smith said. “And I ran a post on that play and I was wide open.”

The next time the players connected for a touchdown — a fade by Miller in the third quarter, which required Smith to catch the ball and drag his feet in the end zone — was evidence enough to suggest that the two players might be developing an on-field relationship, which players and fans alike can rely on.

“(Smith and I are) comfortable in practice in the things we do,” Miller said. “We take time out to throw the ball.”

Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman said he hadn’t initially considered the burgeoning relationship between Smith and Miller.

Bollman said it makes sense that the two players would be helping each other succeed.

“Well, it’s interesting because I hadn’t thought about that at all,” Bollman said. “Naturally, both players coming in together at the same time, you can see that situation evolving between receivers and quarterbacks who are getting some opportunities to play early.”

Of the five passes Miller completed against the Buffaloes, Smith caught three for a total of 64 yards.

Smith said the relationship fans see between he and Miller on the field extends far beyond Ohio Stadium and the practice fields.

“(Miller) is sort of quiet, funny a little bit,” Smith said. “We walk to class. Everybody’s asking him questions and stuff like that, he’s real cool about it. I think that’s what makes him a great kid.”

After Smith’s three catches for 64 yards on Saturday, he is now tied for the team lead in receptions with eight and leads in team in receiving yards with 183.

And how’s this for a relationship — the night before the Colorado game, Smith even said he dreamt about catching touchdown passes from Miller.

“That’s what I was thinking about the whole time,” Smith said.

Other freshmen, including receiver Evan Spencer and linebacker Ryan Shazier, have seen playing time for the Buckeyes, but Miller and Smith have set themselves apart from their classmates.

Bollman is optimistic the Miller-Smith partnership will evolve as the team moves into conference play.

“It’s good to see, no question about it,” Bollman said. “We hope (they) continue to improve.”

Miller agreed.

“We (Smith and Miller) are getting a connection on the field,” he said. “(We’ll) just keep working for the next game.”

Miller and Smith will attempt to continue their shared success on Saturday when OSU hosts Michigan State in its Big Ten opener. Kickoff at the ‘Shoe is set for 3:30 p.m.

 

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