Coach: Zach Smith (fourth year)
2014 BSB Final Grade: B+
Following Ohio State’s demolition of his defense in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama head coach Nick Saban made an interesting observation.
“The one thing that the new quarterback does is he has a tremendous arm,” Saban said, referring to Jones. “And they have some very talented receivers. Those things became very apparent in the last two games because of the quarterback.”
Saban went on to praise Barrett’s play earlier in the season but noted that the big-play ability of the wide receivers wasn’t as obvious because he doesn’t have a cannon for an arm like Jones. With Jones at the helm, wideouts Devin Smith and Michael Thomas shined. Smith absolutely torched opposing defenses in the postseason, and Thomas made a catch in the Sugar Bowl that Buckeye fans won’t soon forget.
Throw in the stability of someone like Evan Spencer, a do-it-all senior who will retroactively be named one of this team’s captains, and the wide receiver group had plenty to be proud of by the end of the season.
- 33 catches, 931 yards, 28.2 ypc (school record), 12 TD
6 Evan Spencer
- 15 catches, 149 yards, 9.9 ypc, 3 TD
3 Mike Thomas (6-3, 209, Jr.)
- 54 catches, 799 yards, 14.8 ypc, 9 TD
17 Jalin Marshall (5-11, 205, Soph.)
- 38 catches, 499 yards, 13.1 ypc, 6 TD; 25 carries, 145 yards, 5.8 ypc, TD; 11.8 yards per punt return, TD
2 Dontre Wilson (5-10, 188, Jr.)
- 21 catches, 300 yards, 14.3 ypc, 3 TD; 18 carries, 100 cards, 5.6 ypc; 24.0 yards per kick return; missed the last six games with a foot injury
84 Corey Smith (6-0, 190, Sr.)
- 20 catches, 255 yards, 23.8 ypc; four tackles
80 Noah Brown (6-1, 240, Soph.)
- 1 catch, 9 yards
1 Johnnie Dixon (5-11, 198, R-Fr.)
- Redshirted in 2014 because of knee surgery
82 James Clark (5-10, 186, Soph.)
- Battled knee injuries for the second straight year in 2014
21 Parris Campbell (6-0, 200, R-Fr.)
- Redshirted in 2014
83 Terry McLaurin (6-0, 195, R-Fr.)
- Redshirted in 2014
9 Devin Smith
The Buckeyes will have to replace a player who no less than Urban Meyer described as the team MVP while also filling the hole left by the best deep threat in school history. Easy, right? We shall see, but there are plenty of options there. Having leading receiver Thomas – a big target who also showed the ability to go the distance last year and the skill to make a circus catch – back is a good starting point, and both “H” players return in Marshall and Wilson. Add in Corey Smith, who got better as the year went on, and the Buckeyes have the makings of a solid corps, but depth and the special skills that Spencer and Devin Smith brought to the table are the holes that need filled.
Player On The Spot
Corey Smith. Going into his senior year, it’s time for Smith, who finished strong for the Buckeyes, to put together a consistent full season. His excellent special teams play at the end of the year – Meyer said he’d be his No. 1 pick to cover kicks – earned him more time with the ball in his hands, and Smith showed late in the year he wasn’t afraid to block while also making plays down the field. Zach Smith said before the season he could be among the most talented players to play the position in quite some time at Ohio State (and remember, OSU has had some good ones), but he has just one more chance to make an impact at the college level.
Spring Is A Success If…
The Buckeyes find a suitable deep threat to replace Devin Smith. It was pretty nice to have someone who could take the top off a defense like Smith did last year, as he helped open things up for Thomas and his long runs after the catch, pushed safeties back to make things easier for the running game and helped the Buckeyes put points on the board in one fell sweep in big late-season wins. Thomas didn’t have to fill this role in 2014 but has shown some ability in practices, while Corey Smith is also a smooth athlete and Dixon could be the wild card as he impressed early before knee injuries ended his campaign. Then there’s Marshall, who might be tasked with sliding from H to outside receiver at times and obviously has athletic ability to spare. The Buckeyes are also expected to work on the passing game concepts under Ed Warinner and Tim Beck, so consistency and the ability to help out the quarterbacks will be prized as well.
Spring Is A Failure If…
Depth doesn’t develop. The Buckeyes will want to add two players to the rotation this year after the departures of Spencer and Devin Smith, and there are plenty of young, talented players. Even among returnees, there is the feeling there’s more talent and production to be unlocked, while such youngsters as Dixon, Brown (who has slimmed down and could be ready to break out), McLaurin and Campbell haven’t had a chance to show their skills fully yet. Moving each of those pieces along will help an offense that returns a lot but also must become settled before the start of the season.