June 7, 2013

Smith striving for All-American honor

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On Thursday, it was announced that Ohio State's Devin Smith had been named an honorable mention All-American for his efforts at the NCAA Track and Field championships. Now that one sport's season is in the books, the dual-sport athlete will turn his attention towards also becoming an All-American caliber player on the gridiron.

Smith, who also serves as a wide receiver on the Buckeyes' football team, is at the midway point of his college career, yet remains a bit of an enigma due to what at times has been described as "inconsistent" play by his coaches. At times, the Massillon, Ohio native has shown the ability to be Ohio State's most dangerous wide receiver, yet at others, he's disappeared from games in their entirety.

The junior-to-be admitted that his sophomore year featured ups as well as downs, as he lead the Buckeyes in touchdown receptions with six, but also recorded two or fewer receptions in eight of his team's 12 games.

"I felt, personally, that I played like an All-American at times, and at times I played like I wasn't," Smith said of his 2012 season. "The one thing I'm really focusing on is I want to be an All-American. I want people to know that I'm a great player."

In fairness to Smith, his role in the OSU offense isn't as predicated on making catches as fellow wideout Corey Brown's is. The 6-foot-1, 196-pounder's job is to stretch the field with his speed, helping to open up things underneath for teammates by keeping opposing defenses honest.

Still, Smith's 30 receptions in 2012 are well below where his coaches would like to see his total be, especially when you take into account some of the easier passes that he dropped last season. Buckeyes wide receiver coach Zach Smith said that the Washington high school product made some strides during Ohio State's spring practice period, but is still far from a finished product.

"He's had an up-and-down spring," the Buckeyes assistant coach explained. "He's doing things now I didn't see in 12 months, but he needs to do those every day, every rep."

Despite his inconsistency, Smith has already stockpiled a plethora of memorable moments during his two-year career in Columbus. Whether it was his game-winning 40-yard touchdown haul against Wisconsin in 2011, his leaping one-handed touchdown snag in Ohio State's opener against Miami (OH) last season, or game-winning scores against California and Michigan State, Smith's ability for making the big play has never been in question. As he heads into his junior season, Smith's goal is to make more of such plays -- as well as the routine ones -- on a regular basis.

"I want to make more plays this year," he said. "I want to be the guy everyone can count on. I don't want to be the guy everyone remembers as the one-handed catch."

A consistent Smith could be imperative in improving an Ohio State passing attack that ranked 105th in the country in 2012. With the Buckeyes now entering their second season under Urban Meyer's spread offense, Zach Smith said that his players no longer have any excuses to make, as they're aware of just how important they are to their team's success.

"Our offense is built around the receivers and the throw game. We rely heavily on them," he said. "They didn't know how significant the expectation was last year. Now they know."

Between his ability, experience, and familiarity with the offense he plays in, Devin Smith is confident that 2013 will be the year that he puts it all together. Switching from the No. 15 uniform to the No. 9 jersey that he wore in high school, the Buckeyes' second-leading receiver said that he's ready for a fresh start and to become one of the top players in the country at his position.

"Last season was a taste of how this offense is supposed to run," Smith said. "All I have to do is take the great coaching here and the sky's the limit."


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