Conspicuously absent in those talks has been Corey Smith.
Yet there he was showcasing his talents in the spring game on the way to a game-high six receptions and 174 yards. Smith scored both of the Scarlet team’s touchdowns, catching long bombs of 37 and 58 yards from Cardale Jones.
That effort showed what Smith is capable of, flashing his ability to catch the deep ball, but the senior has a tendency to only show his talents for flashes.
“Consistency is his issue,” offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said after the spring game. “He has some talent and he shows it. Today he showed his talent so his deal to be someone talked about consistently is to be consistent and do that every day and he’s trying to figure out what he needs to do to be consistent because when he does show up and have it all locked in he’s really good.”
Towards the end of the Buckeyes 2014 National Championship season Smith appeared to be rounding into form. He finished his junior season with 20 catches for 255 yards, but five of those catches and 111 of those yards came in Ohio State’s three postseason victories. On top of that, he excelled as a gunner on special teams and as a blocker.
It seemed that Smith was building momentum that would carry on in the spring, but his inconsistencies – issues he had as a junior and attributed to poor practice habits – have caused the receiver to blend back in to what is becoming a crowded group of playmakers at receiver.
Young players like Samuel, Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell – players that coaches mentioned far more frequently than Smith this spring – are vying for Smith’s snaps at receiver. Playing for Gray, Campbell had five catches for 38 yards and McLaurin caught a 35-yard pass while Samuel had three catches for 30 yards on Scarlet.
“Well we just continued to supply talent to that position so now we have a lot of playmakers there,” Warinner said. “We’ve just aggressively recruited those guys and they’re here on the team now and coming in to their own.”
While those players have shown development this spring, Smith has shown he still is not a consistent player. While it seemed that he was poised to step into a clear role in the 2015 receiver rotation after the departure of Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, it appears that young players have passed him while established talents like Marshall and Mike Thomas remain ahead of him.
Smith showed what he is capable of in the spring game, producing better than any other receiver and showing come chemistry with Jones on the deep ball. However, the Buckeyes have enough playmakers that if that type of play doesn’t come more consistently, Smith will continue to be the forgotten man at receiver.