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Ohio State wide receivers starting to catch on

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

It’s no secret that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had his doubts about the wide receiving corps during the preseason.

In a press conference before the Buckeyes’ Spring Game in April, Meyer expressed his concern for the group of receivers.

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

Meyer had some of those questions answered after his first game as coach of the Buckeyes.

In the then-No. 18 Buckeyes’ season debut against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 1, the OSU wide receivers accounted for 213 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

After the win, OSU improved to No. 14 in the Associated Press’ top 25 poll, released Tuesday. Meyer’s impression of his receivers has improved as well.

Meyer said the receivers are improving and that he would have to give them a good grade for their overall performance in the season opener.

“A good, solid B,” Meyer said. “A good effort and some good efforts blocking down the field.”

The game was highlighted by sophomore wide receiver Devin Smith’s one-handed, 23-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter.

Junior quarterback Kenny Guiton said Smith’s touchdown grab was impressive but highlighted the performance of the entire receiving group.

“Devin’s catch was amazing,” Guiton said. “The wide receivers went up and got some passes that I didn’t see them do in camp. I thought they had a great game.”

The catch by Smith was one of 14 on the day for OSU receivers. The 14 catches equalled or surpassed the group’s output from each of their games against Miami (Fla.), Colorado, Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue and Florida during the 2011 season.

Joining the wide receivers this season is redshirt senior Jake Stoneburner, who mostly played tight end for the Buckeyes since his arrival to Columbus in 2008. Stoneburner only had two catches for 28 yards in the first game, but some of his teammates think he can be a key offensive threat this season by lining up as a receiver. 

Freshman tight end Nick Vannett said that Stoneburner can do many things on the field and can pose a match-up problem for opposing defenses. 

“There’s not much that he can’t do,” Vannett said. “We can bring him in sometimes to block and also split him out to send him down the seam. The defense can never really expect what they’re gonna see from us because he’s a very versatile athlete.”

The receivers will have to work out a few things if they want to upgrade their B grade to an A.

Meyer said even though the group played well, there is some room for improvement.

“They still had some missed assignments and some things we have to get better at,” Meyer said.

The receivers will look to improve and build on their game this Saturday when OSU hosts Central Florida at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.  

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