Last summer, Buckeye Sports Bulletin counted down the Best Buckeye Ever to wear each jersey number in program history. This year, we will be discussing the best Ohio State player to play each position under Urban Meyer through the head coach’s first five years in Columbus.
Buckeye Sports Bulletin writers James Grega, Ryan McGlade and Tim Moody each listed their top players at each position and the list that follows is final tally we came up with counting from No. 10 to the best wide receiver to play under Meyer.
No. 10 - Parris Campbell
Entering his redshirt-junior season, Campbell appears set for a breakout season for the Buckeyes in 2017. In his first full season with the team, Campbell struggled to produce, dropping an infamous would-be touchdown pass against Virginia Tech in 2015. He went the entire season without a catch before hauling in 13 passes for 121 yards in 2016, adding a rushing touchdown and a few impressive kick returns. He cracks our top-10, coming in with the last vote from each writer.
No. 9 - Chris Fields
It is hard to forget Fields’ touchdown catch against Purdue in 2012 that ultimately helped send the game to overtime, preserving Ohio State’s perfect season in Meyer’s first year in Columbus. Fields played sparingly in his first few years at Ohio State before Meyer’s arrival, but had a solid senior campaign, catching 16 passes for 193 yards and six touchdowns in 2013.
No. 8 - Noah Brown
Brown is a player who could have easily been a top five receiver at Ohio State had he either stayed another year, or not been injured in 2015. His 2016 season appeared to be one for the record books after a four touchdown performance against Oklahoma, but after that, Brown caught just 23 more passes and scored twice in the Buckeyes final 10 games. His ability could have placed him higher on this list, but his lack of stats keeps him at No. 8.
No. 7 - Dontre Wilson
Wilson is one of the more interesting players of the Meyer era at Ohio State. A highly coveted recruit, Wilson flipped from Oregon to the Buckeyes after Chip Kelly left the Ducks. After playing as a freshman in a limited capacity, Wilson broke out as a sophomore catching 21 passes for 300 yards and three scores including a crucial touchdown grab against Michigan State. That game however, proved to be Wilson’s downfall as a broken foot suffered against the Spartans forced him to miss the rest of 2014 and most of 2015. He returned close to full strength in 2016 and caught 27 passes for 352 yards and five scores but was recently cut by the Los Angeles Chargers after being signed as a free agent shortly after the NFL Draft.
No. 6 - Jalin Marshall
The bottom four receivers on this list were unanimous in the voting, but here is where our votes began to vary. Marshall just missed out on the top five, despite a solid two years as a Buckeye. During Ohio State’s title run in 2014, Marshall caught 38 passes for 499 yards and six scores while also rushing 25 times for 145 yards and a score. His punt return ability gave OSU fans heart attacks at times, but his punt return for a score against Indiana in 2014 helped ignite a fourth-quarter comeback in which he added three more scores.
His numbers dipped slightly in 2015 with the emergence of Braxton Miller as an H-back, but Marshall still caught 36 passes for 477 yards in his final season as a Buckeye.
No. 5 - Corey “Philly” Brown
While Ohio State fans might remember Brown for his crucial muffed punt against Clemson in the 2014 Orange Bowl, Brown put together a solid Buckeye career. Playing just two of his four years under Meyer, Brown led Ohio State in receptions in Meyer’s first two years in Columbus, catching 60 passes for 669 yards in 2012 before grabbing 63 passes for 771 yards and 10 scores in 2013. Despite the mishap against Clemson, Brown had a solid career as a punt returner as he returned two punts for touchdowns in 2012 against both Nebraska and Wisconsin.
No. 4 - Evan Spencer
Spencer’s statline won’t come up in the Ohio State record books, but his performance in the 2015 Sugar Bowl alone will be remembered by Buckeye fans everywhere. His touchdown pass to Michael Thomas (more on him later), his crack block on Ezekiel Elliott’s 85 yard run to seal the game, and his onside kick recovery all helped the Buckeyes advance to and ultimately win a national title in his senior season. Spencer was named MVP of Ohio State’s national title team despite catching just 15 passes for 149 yards and three scores in 2014-15. For his career, he finished with 52 catches for 579 yards and seven scores, but his performance against Alabama and superior blocking ability on the edge pushed him into the top five on our list.
No. 3 - Curtis Samuel
After sitting behind the likes of both Marshall, Miller and Wilson his first two years on campus, Samuel exploded into an All-American in 2016. He led the Buckeyes in receiving with 74 catches (the most by an OSU wide receiver in the Meyer era) for 865 yards and seven touchdowns while adding 771 yards and eight scores on the ground. His game winning touchdown against Michigan in double-overtime will be forever etched in Ohio State history, but two other Buckeye wide receivers edged him out on our list.
No. 2 - Michael Thomas
You could very easily make an argument that Thomas deserves the top spot on this list, but he comes in at No. 2. After a rocky start to his Ohio State career, Thomas exploded onto the scene in 2014, leading the team in receptions with 54 for 799 yards and nine scores, none more memorable than the grab from Spencer against Alabama. He caught an additional 56 passes for 781 yards and nine scores in 2015 before being selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by New Orleans. If this list took into account NFL ability, Thomas would probably be No. 1.
No. 1 - Devin Smith
Smith played three of his four years as Buckeye under Meyer and his explosiveness as a deep threat for Ohio State was undoubtedly one of the main reasons OSU won the national title in 2014. While he caught 30 touchdown passes while at OSU, the most impressive stat of his college career was that the Buckeyes never lost a game he caught a touchdown pass in. During his senior campaign, Smith caught 33 passes for 931 yards and 12 scores. His performance against Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten title game is one Buckeye fans will never forget, as he caught four passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns.
James Grega: Michael Thomas and Devin Smith could easily be 1A and 1B on this list, but the fact that Smith and the Buckeyes never lost a game he scored in puts him over the top. Thomas had the highest ceiling of anyone on this list and might have been No. 1 had Ohio State not forgotten about him at times in 2015.
Ryan McGlade: Having Devin Smith at the top of the list was a no-brainer for me. Like James mentioned, for the team to not lose any game Smith caught a touchdown pass in is remarkable. While Curtis Samuel had an incredible year in 2016, I put him third in my ranking of the wide outs and had Michael Thomas at No. 2. Thomas was vital in Ohio State’s run to the national championship following the 2014 regular season, especially for triggering the comeback vs. Alabama.
Tim Moody: While I think Devin Smith is perfectly deserving of the top spot, I actually had him third. To me, Curtis Samuel’s 2016 season earned him the right to be called the best WR under Meyer, while Mike Thomas was easily the most physically gifted. I also think Parris Campbell has a chance to shoot way up this list with a big 2017 season.