Smith Still Has Business To Take Care Of

With a few jobs open in the Ohio State receiver corps, Devin Smith could have earned valuable experience by entering OSU in time for spring practice. Instead, he stayed at Massillon High School, where he'll try to complete a standout prep career with some more hardware. Smith talked about that and other topics in this interview.

Devin Smith wouldn't mind being in Columbus this spring practicing with the Ohio State football team.

However, other business in the capital city will take precedence for the OSU class of 2011 signee.

"I wanted to go in early, but I had basketball and track so I'm going to finish high school and finish strong and just come into Ohio State in June and enjoy it," the wide receiver said. "I have a state title to defend and try to get some more."

That state title came a year ago in the Division I long jump competition, as Smith's leap of 23 feet, 4½ inches bested the field in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the OSU campus. Smith also competed in the high jump, taking fifth, and with his Massillon Washington teammates in the 4x200-meter relay.

Skills such as those show that Smith – who added 110 career catches and 24 TDs on the gridiron, second most in the stories history of the Tiger football program – will bring a fair amount of athleticism with him to the football field.

However, Smith said it's not all just God-given talent that has allowed him to excel in multiple arenas.

"A lot of guys, it is natural, but to me, I don't think it's natural," said Smith, Scout's No. 29 ranked receiver in the 2011 class. "I think it's from the hard work I've put in with track and basketball and all that, extra lifting and running and all that. I think my hard worked helped me."

He'll hope to use those skills to earn early playing time, and there will certainly be an opportunity. Ohio State's leading receiver in 2010, Dane Sanzenbacher, has exhausted his eligibility, while No. 2 target DeVier Posey is ineligible for the opening five games because of an NCAA suspension.

The leading returning target among wideouts is Corey Brown, who caught eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities for all comers.

"I plan on going down there and playing, so I have to bust my tail in everything I do from now on," said Smith, who will enter OSU along with Illinois wideout prospect Evan Spencer. "I expect to play this year. I think I have the ability to play, and I think they're going to make me a better football player when I get in there."

When he does get to Ohio State, Smith will be under the direction of new receivers coach Stan Drayton. Though he said he could tell Drayton is "a good guy" through recent conversations, including one on singing day, Smith said he would miss not having Darrell Hazell – who coached OSU's receivers for seven years before taking the head coaching job at Kent State – around.

"When he left I was devastated, I really was," he said. "He said we'll always stay in contact and he has great respect for me and I have great respect for him. He'll be a coach that I'll never forget."

Before arriving at Ohio State, Smith will get his initial chance to compete in the Horseshoe when taking part in the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic the day before the Buckeyes' spring game in April. There, Smith will line up one final time with Massillon teammate Justin Olack, who has signed a letter of intent to play at Toledo.

"It means a lot," he said of playing in the game. "This is something that I've been looking forward to. We had a kid that played in this game last year so I'm looking forward to it. Really, the competition and going out there and competing is a big thing."

When it comes to improvement, Smith said his biggest gains will come in the weight room as he continues to develop.

"I really didn't take lifting as serious until I got to Massillon, and now that I see that strength is a key to football, that's something that I take pride in now and am starting to take seriously," he said.

The 6-3, 190-pounder said he can't wait to be a Buckeye full-time, but in the meantime he has some business to take care of in the prep ranks. The goal is for that journey to end on the OSU campus with yet another ribbon around his neck.

"It's all good now," he said. "Coming down here and knowing that everything that's going to happen is going to be great, but right now that has to wait and I have to come out here and try to get this state title out of the way."

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