More than any other position group in football, wide receivers have a reputation for being divas.
At Ohio State, that reputation might not be lost when stepping into wide receivers coach Zach Smith’s room.
“We definitely have divas, yes, we have divas,” redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall said Monday. “I can’t tell you their names ‘cause they’re my brothers, but we have divas in the wide receiver room.”
But earlier on Monday, Smith rejected the idea of there being any divas in the room.
“Certainly not here,” he said. “That’s elsewhere, everywhere else.”
But for the Buckeyes — while that diva attitude might be present depending who you ask — the goals of the team come to the forefront more than individual glory, Marshall said. He added that each receiver is still ready to step into the limelight when his time comes.
“We want to win more than we want the ball,” he said. “So if we do have to get the ball to win, I feel like we can make the plays that’s given to us. That’s why it’s not so much of a battle in the room anymore, because we want to win.”
Despite a plethora of different personalities at the position, Marshall credited Smith for his ability to keep the group together.
“Coach Smith, I think he handles it all well, our own little personalities,” he said.
The core group of OSU’s receiving corps consists of six players — two seniors in Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, a redshirt-junior in Corey Smith, redshirt-sophomore Michael Thomas, sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson and redshirt-freshman Marshall. Those players have accounted for 72 of OSU’s 110 receptions this season for 1,236 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“There’s probably six guys rotating right now,” Zach Smith said. “All six of them, there may not be a premier, marquee guy that’s going to have the national stats that put him into whatever top of the country, but that’s a testament to the development of those six guys in the group.”
While none are well beyond the pack statistically, Thomas leads the group with 21 catches for 377 yards and is tied for the team-high with Devin Smith with five touchdown receptions.
Zach Smith said the success of the Buckeyes’ receivers this season, despite none standing out from the pack, comes back down to the relationship they have with one another.
“In order for Mike Thomas to touch the ball, Jalin might not touch it as many times, but there’s a great relationship between the two,” he said as an example. “He wants Jalin to touch the ball. They all want to do well. At the end of the day, all they really care about is we win and we do our job.”
Thanks in part to the work of those recievers, the Buckeyes have done little but win so far this season. They hold a 5-1 overall record with a 2-0 mark in Big Ten play. Those wins are partially credited to the OSU offense which has been playing at a historic rate over the past few weeks, as the Buckeyes set a school record for consecutive games with 50 or more points when they did it for the fourth time in a row on Saturday against Rutgers.
While continued team success might still be their No. 1 priority, Spencer said he’s also happy to see the success of his fellow receivers.
“When one person is doing well, everybody’s doing well,” he said Monday. “And we really kind of expanded on that notion. The fact that we wish the best upon everybody.”
Hoping for the success of the players around them comes back to the relationship the receivers have with each other, which Marshall described as brotherhood, but the concoction of personalities might also look something like a high school homeroom.
“We got Mike Thomas, he’s kind of the clown, the class clown of the room, he always makes those comments,” Marshall said. “You got Evan Spencer, the leader, he’s like the class president.”
Marshall also called Devin Smith the “goofiest one in the room,” Wilson the “class comedian,” and referred to Corey Smith as a clown alongside Thomas.
“We’re all fools to our own extent, we like to have fun,” Spencer said.
But as for himself, Marshall painted a picture of the one who might be the model student.
“I don’t know about me, I just listen to coach Smith and go to practice, that’s what I do,” he said.
As long as they avoid detention, the Buckeye receivers are set to lead OSU into a Saturday matchup with Penn State in State College, Pa. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.