Everyone wants to leave their mark on history.
In the case of Ohio State senior wide receiver Devin Smith, there is still some work to be done.
Smith, who has made multiple big catches in his career as a Buckeye, including the game-winning catch against Wisconsin in 2011, said he feels he can give OSU more despite his previous success.
“I look back on some of the plays that I have made, and I have made some plays that people will remember forever,” Smith said. “Inside me, I still feel like there is more that I need to give and I am hoping I can do that my last year.”
In order to do that, wide receivers coach Zach Smith said Devin Smith will need to expand his game and develop more as a receiver.
“We played a lot of games where he was faster than the guy he lined up across and again, that’s a gift and a curse,” Zach Smith said. “If you can just run by a guy over and over again, then eventually you play a guy that you can’t run by, and it exposes your flaw.”
Last season Devin Smith finished second on the team in receiving yards (660), receptions (44), receiving touchdowns (eight) and receiving yards per game (47.1), behind Corey “Philly” Brown, who left for the NFL Draft.
Sophomore running back Dontre Wilson, whom coach Urban Meyer announced March 25 has joined the wide receivers full-time, said he has viewed film of Devin Smith in order to improve his own game as a wide receiver.
“I watched ‘Philly’ and Devin and all their routes and just been learning some things,” Wilson said.
Devin Smith and the receiving corps have also had to work with young quarterbacks redshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones and redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett this spring while senior quarterback Braxton Miller is out for spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery. Devin Smith said he is trying to be a mentor to the young quarterbacks as they are receiving a larger number of reps in practice.
“With me being a senior leader and one of the guys coach Meyer depends on, I am there to help them with whatever they need,” Devin Smith said. “They know more of the offense with having (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom) Herman, but at the same time, I am there if they need me. I will tell them how I am going to run my route or they tell me how they want me to run a route or where the ball is going to be placed. I think that relationship between receiver and quarterback is very important.”
Despite early success during the 2013 season, Devin Smith’s numbers dropped drastically at the end of the year as he totaled just six catches in OSU’s final five games after averaging 4.2 catches per game in the previous nine. Devin Smith said the drop-off is partially because of the Buckeyes’ numerous offensive weapons in 2013.
“With some game plans, sometimes it goes away from me. Putting the ball in ‘Philly’s’ hands or Braxton, or (running back) Carlos (Hyde’s) and things like that,” Devin Smith said. “I think one thing that kind of hurt me a little bit was I was kind of banged up a little bit and not making plays in practice held me back from getting plays in the game, so I am just making sure I am taking care of my body every single day and making plays when I can, treating practice as if it was a game. I think if I do that here and perfect that, it will carry over to the season.”
If Devin Smith can stay healthy and continue to improve his game, Zach Smith said the senior from Massillon, Ohio, can have a successful year in 2014.
“Devin is slowly building the confidence and mentality to be a great player,” Zach Smith said.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Navy Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium at noon.