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Devin Smith is not a possession receiver. In 13 contests this season he has caught more than five balls in a game just once. He probably isn’t the Buckeyes top target when looking to pick up a short first down through the air and he doesn’t lead the team in receptions.
“Best deep-ball catcher in America, maybe in America that we’ve seen in a long, long time,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said of Smith. “The thing that I liked that he did today was he fought for the football. They weren’t perfect throws by any stretch. They were good enough and Devin went up and fought for the football and I’m really proud of the way that he responded when we called his number.”
Smith caught four balls for 137 yards (12 shy of his career high) and three touchdowns. The senior affirmed once again that when it comes to scoring points, he’s one of the best receivers in the country.
The speedster has 30 receptions this season for a team-high 799 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging an obscene 26.6 yards per catch. Deep balls have always been his specialty as his career average of 20.09 yards per grab is good for fourth all-time in program history if it holds following the Buckeyes postseason.
“When we came into this game watching film all week we saw they pressed a lot,” Smith said after torching Wisconsin. “They rarely played off coverage, and the first play of the game they played off of me and I was surprised. They had success against other teams pressing, and we just took a lot of shots and it came out very well.”
Against the Badgers, Smith’s scores went for 39, 44 and 42 yards. Following that win, Ohio State is 21-0 when Smith catches a touchdown. An astounding 24.5 percent of his career receptions have ended with No. 9 celebrating in the end zone and his 29 career scores are second all-time in Ohio State history while his 2,371 receiving yards are fifth all time.
Smith said he felt like he was going to have a big game entering the conference championship and the senior delivered. In all, the unit played as well as it has in three years under head coach Urban Meyer.
“Going all throughout camp we knew we had a special group and we just had to put it together,” senior receiver Evan Spencer said after beating Wisconsin. “Going through the whole season and all the adversity that hit, I think all of that knowledge and preparation came through as a unit today. We played awesome as a unit. Devin had an outstanding day. Mike had an outstanding day. Jalin had an outstanding day. I did. Top to bottom, we played so good today.”