Despite Youth, Receivers Confident

The Ohio State football team said goodbye to its leading receiver in Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey will miss the first five games of the season. All that's left for the wide receivers is inexperience, but they're quite confident.

If there's a general lingering doubt in regards to what Ohio State's offense will be able to accomplish this season, wide receiver Corey Brown certainly understands the reasons for it.

After the team's practice Tuesday, the sophomore receiver — otherwise known as "Philly" — was kind enough to list the reasons why some don't expect the Buckeyes do be as dynamic offensively as they've been in the past.

"We lost (Terrelle Pryor), we lost Dane (Sanzenbacher), our leading receiver last year, DeVier Posey is out five games," Brown suggested. "We have all youth at the receiver position, so for people to be down, it's understandable."

The Buckeyes will be hard pressed enough to replace perhaps its most dynamic player from a year ago in Pryor, who left the program prematurely amid scandal before being selected by the Oakland Raiders in Monday's NFL supplemental draft.

But even with the loss of Pryor, the quarterback position may not be the one that outsiders are most concerned with, particularly with freshman phenom Braxton Miller competing for the position.

Instead it's the receivers that have the most questions to answer, who without Posey are just a youthful, yet talented, group that all share one individual trait — inexperience.

But within the wide receivers room there seems to be a general sense that everything will be fine. Even after Brown's admission of perceived weakness, he followed it with remarks promising Ohio State's receivers "will be ready."

For first-year wide receivers coach Stan Drayton, those words are meaningless. He too understands the apprehension around his unit and until there is a proven playmaker, Ohio State still has a blatant weakness at wideout.

"We have to show and prove," Drayton said. "We're not going to be about words. We're going to be about our actions and hopefully our actions will meet the expectations of what this program is all about. That's all I am concerned with."

With the onus on Drayton to find an instant playmaker to replace Posey for the first five weeks of the season while serving a suspension, Brown has taken the role as the team's No. 1 option thus far in fall camp.

Sporting the most experience of any receiver vying for playing time — he caught eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown for Ohio State in 2010 as a freshman — Brown's immense speed makes him one of the team's most attractive options.

"I haven't had many, if any drops, this camp and I feel like all of the hard work is starting to pan out," Brown said. "I have been trying to take camp one day at a time and get better at all the little things.

"I want to be the receiver where on third down we can say they're going to me and they have confidence I am going to come down with the ball or be the go-to guy for this team."

But likely with any youthful player, the Drayton and the staff are throwing competition at Brown in the case that he isn't ready to take on the responsibility as the Buckeyes' top target.

Also in the mix is converted wide receiver Verlon Reed, a redshirt freshman who joined the Buckeyes after enjoying success as a prep quarterback star at local Columbus Marion-Franklin High School.

Blessed with athleticism that wide receivers coach Drayton referred to as "natural," Reed has taken to wide receiver after spending all of last year learning the intricacies of the position.

Reed, who stormed onto the scene toward the end of spring football after his performance in the annual spring game, has spent all of fall taking repetitions alongside Brown with Ohio State's first team offense.

"Verlon Reed has been very steady," Drayton said. "He has some big play ability and we expect him to be that kind of a guy for us. We want to be able to give him the ball and make something happen after the catch for us as well."

Then of course there are the reserves — all of which seem to sport their own specific strengths. There's redshirt freshman T.Y. Williams, who 6-foot-5 and weighs nearly 230 pounds.

Chris Fields, who was often compared to Santonio Holmes early in his career, has also made strides to find the field as Ohio State's slot receiver. Fields hauled in a 58-yard touchdown pass in the Buckeyes' jersey scrimmage on Saturday.

And finally there are two freshmen in Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, both of which come to Ohio State in a year with opportunity to make instant impact. To Drayton's pleasure, both receivers seem well-equipped enough to provide support to the unit right away.

Though there's nothing but inexperience at Ohio State's wide receiver position, all the coaches — Drayton included — will speak on the vast athleticism the Buckeyes have to work with.

"I think that position has a chance to be deeper than it's been for years," said offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, who has been around incredible talents at the position during his decade with the program.

"Now they're all newer, younger guys, but they've all shown a lot of ability and a lot of potential. If they keep working like they've been working in this preseason camp I think they'll be OK."


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