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Commentary: Ohio State receivers still have a lot to prove

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

With the Ohio State football Spring Game a day away, many, including myself, are anxious to see the Buckeye wide receiving core in action with a new offense that puts a little more emphasis on passing.

In a press conference after Wednesday’s practice, coach Urban Meyer said a lot of passing is sure to be seen during Saturday’s game.

“The ball will be thrown a lot, but I don’t know if it’s gonna be caught a lot,” Meyer said jokingly. “That’s the evaluation part.”

So let’s evaluate these receivers who will be attempting to catch all these passes in Meyer’s offense. Meyer said rising junior Corey “Philly” Brown has stood out as the top receiver so far in practice. Brown caught 14 passes for 205 yards with one touchdown last season. It sounds like he’s on track for a breakout year as the No. 1 option.

Rising redshirt senior tight end Jake Stoneburner has been playing a lot of slot receiver for the first team during spring practices. Stoneburner was a main target in the redzone last season for the Buckeye offense. Stoneburner caught 14 passes for 193 yards and led the team in touchdowns with seven. Expect to see more of the same productivity from him.

It gets tricky determining which of the other receivers will step up and have impacts on OSU’s passing game this season. Rising redshirt sophomore Verlon Reed is back with the team after missing most of last season with a torn ACL in his knee. Reed started as a freshman before getting hurt and could be a threat on offense this year if healthy.

Rising sophomore Devin Smith is a speedster who also runs on the Buckeyes’ track team, and has big play ability on the football field. That ability was displayed last season with his game-winning touchdown catch against Wisconsin. He is second in touchdown passes caught last season with four. Smith can be most effective on post routes and deep passes with his track speed.

Rising redshirt sophomore Tyrone Williams is an interesting receiver who many Buckeye fans might not be familiar with. It’s hard not to notice his physical presence in practice standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing in at 229 pounds. His size alone can cause nightmare matchups for opposing defenses on a weekly basis. Look for him to contribute to the passing game with a backup role.

I didn’t forget about rising redshirt junior Chris Fields, but he has had his struggles in the past and hasn’t stood out much in spring practices. Productivity from him will be a bonus to the team.

Meyer admitted that this group of wide receivers is making progress, but still needs to make a lot of improvements before the season kicks off.

“(They have) a long way to go, but they’re getting better,” Meyer said.

So as we all anxiously wait to see how this group will perform Saturday, Meyer will be taking a closer look from the sidelines to make his final verdict.

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