Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Ohio State football’s senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown said after the team’s spring practice Thursday that the Buckeye offense has the potential to be the top-ranked unit in the country.
“When we get clicking there’s nobody that can stop us,” Brown said. “That’s guaranteed.”
OSU wide receivers coach Zach Smith called Brown, who led the team with 60 receptions last season, a guy that the Buckeyes were able to count on.
But the unit as a whole, Smith said, is in the process of improving. He said that the understanding of the offense itself is what was keeping the receivers from making more plays.
“This offense is a very different offense for the wide receiver position than most,” Smith said. “What we ask (the receivers) to know and do is very NFL-like. The biggest improvement is their understanding of their role and what they need to do to be successful in this offense.”
At times last year, the receiving corps of Brown, junior Devin Smith, sophomore Michael Thomas, junior Evan Spencer and senior Chris Fields was referred to as a “clown show.”
Zach Smith said that was not a proud moment for him as a coach, but he did use to motivate the group.
“It’s definitely motivating. I could just put quotes from newspapers on the wall and just hang them there,” Zach Smith said. “I didn’t even have to refer to them. It was motivating and it helped us improve as much as we did and also see what we needed to do last year that we are doing this year.”
Devin Smith, who led the team with six touchdown receptions last year, said that the work the offense did in the winter has helped them during spring practice.
“I think everybody’s comfortable with the system. The work that we did in the winter has really helped us this spring,” Devin Smith said. “We are all coming together as a unit, and are just getting better.”
Zach Smith called what Devin Smith’s spring practice “up and down,” but said he has seen things from him now that he did not see last season.
“He’s done well at times, he just needs to work on consistency,” Zach Smith said. “That’s the next step – things that he didn’t do last year he has done this spring, but not everyday.”
After struggling most of last season to get to the level that they were expected to, Zach Smith said that the receivers knew what they needed to do to improve once the season ended and have done well so far in the offseason.
“We were not near as good as what we needed to be, so they knew coming into this winter what they had to do. There was not a lot of explaining, planning or motivating because they knew what they had to do,” Zach Smith said. “They have to finish out the rest of the spring strong, and then this summer has to be the best summer in the history of Ohio State football for my group.”
Spencer said he and the rest of the receivers are working at constant improvement each practice. Spencer’s 12 receptions last season were fourth-best on the team, and he is looking to having more of a role.
“We’re out to strive to be the best receiving group as a whole in the country and I just want to be a part of it,” Spencer said. “If you’re out there making plays then they’re going to let you play.”
Spencer said playing the spring game in Cincinnati instead of Columbus is going to be an interesting environment and that he is looking forward to showing OSU fans what the group has been working on.
“I can’t wait,” Spencer said. “It’ll be a lot of fun but at the same time we just need to go out and execute and just do what we do.”
The Buckeyes will practice again Saturday, with the practice being the program’s second annual Student Appreciation Day, which is open to students and begins at 11 a.m.
OSU has four more spring practices between this week and next week leading up to the LiFESports Spring Game, which will be played April 13 at 1 p.m. in Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.