Thursday, September 20, 2012
Devin Smith's a highlight machine for OSU
By Brian Bennett
An all-around athlete, WR Devin Smith aims to be one of the best players to don an OSU jersey.
Devin Smith has packed a lot of highlights into his short career so far at Ohio State.
The sophomore receiver caught the game-winning 40-yard heave from Braxton Miller last year against Wisconsin. He made a ridiculous one-handed grab for a touchdown in the opener against Miami (Ohio). And last week, he helped put away Cal by getting behind the defense during a Miller scramble and hauling in a 72-yard touchdown.
Expect more of those highlights to come from Smith. He likes being in the spotlight and has high goals for his career at Ohio State.
"I want to go down in history as one of the best athletes who've ever come through this school," he told ESPN.com. "I work hard on that every day."
Smith is already one of the current Buckeyes' top athletes. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder also competes in the long jump, high jump and 100-meter dash for the school's track and field team. He was the state long jump champion at Massillon High School, taking the title with a jump of 24 feet, seven inches. His personal bests are 25 feet, five inches on the long jump and seven feet, one inch on the high jump. Smith said his vertical leap is about 41 inches.
"I've done track ever since I was in sixth grade, and the love I have for that sport will never go away," Smith said. "I want to expand my athleticism to the world."
He used every bit of that athleticism for the one-handed catch against Miami, a play that could wind up as an ESPY nominee. Of all his highlights so far, Smith said that's his favorite.
"I always dreamed of being on the ESPN Top 10 plays, and that catch was No. 1," he said. "That made my day."
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says he gives Smith a hard time about that catch, telling him that he got lucky the ball stuck to his hand. Meyer was more impressed with Smith's 25-yard touchdown reception earlier in the game against Cal last week, when he adjusted to the ball and outfought cornerback Steve Williams for it.
"He went up against a future NFL player at corner and took the ball," Meyer said. "That's what we're looking for.
"[He's] one of the most improved players on our team, certainly on offense. His whole demeanor, his whole approach to the game has drastically changed from where he was in spring."
Smith led the Buckeyes in receiving as a true freshman with 14 catches for 294 yards and four touchdowns. He's already got 13 receptions for 233 yards and three scores through three games this season. Smith said he had to work on running crisper routes and learn how to read defenses in the offseason, something he lacked a year ago.
One thing he had right away was a chemistry with Miller. The two first got to know each other at an Ohio State summer camp before their senior year of high school. Then receivers coach Darrell Hazell made sure to pair them up. Miller had already committed to the Buckeyes by then, but Smith had yet to make a college choice.
"We really clicked [at that camp]," Smith said. "That made my decision easier, knowing they'd have a quarterback with great ability that I could come in and work with."
Smith said he and Miller stayed in touch throughout their senior years, and when Miller enrolled early at Ohio State he would give Smith the scoop on what to expect. The two classmates have a strong connection, and it shows whenever a play breaks down, like in those game-winners against Wisconsin and Cal.
"He's a good friend to have, and I'm glad we've got that chemistry going," Smith said.
The two of them should be making many more highlights for Ohio State for years to come.