Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Devin Smith might be the best wide receiver Ohio State has.
The sophomore playmaker has looked the part through the first three games of the season, catching 13 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns. He had a one-handed touchdown grab against Miami (Ohio) that will be played on highlight reels for years to come and the game-winning score against California last Saturday.
The statistics and big plays might speak for themselves, but they don’t have to anymore.
“(Tuesday) at practice, coach Meyer was talking to the team, and he told me that he feels I’m the best receiver in the unit,” Smith said, as he cracked in to a smile.
Smith’s quarterback, sophomore Braxton Miller, said he agrees with Meyer.
What separates Smith from his teammates, Miller said, is a little bit of everything.
“First of all is his speed. He has great hands. I’d say his routes too, the way he gets open, he gets open really fast,” Miller said.
Smith’s attributes have certainly been on display during OSU’s first three games this season. What has possibly stood out most, though, has been his ability to go up and pluck balls out of the air. That skill is what allowed Smith to make his one-handed catch against the RedHawks, and it is the cause for one of his two touchdowns last Saturday against the Golden Bears.
The skill is not just something Smith possesses; it is something that is preached to all of the OSU wide receivers every day at practice by wide receivers coach Zach Smith, but the sophomore wide receiver probably does it best.
“Whenever the ball is in the air, it’s yours. That’s our mentality with this group,” Zach Smith said. “Every time the ball is thrown to us we have to go get it.”
Devin Smith has had a few low moments so far this season too, including two dropped passes last Saturday against California. His hands are something he said he works on heavily.
“My hands are pretty good. I work on them every single day. Those two drops in the game, it happens. You got to bounce back and my teammates did a great job keeping my head up,” Devin Smith said.
While Devin Smith has received a good amount of praise recently from his coaches and teammates, the positive reinforcement has not always been there. Outside of a game-winning catch against Wisconsin, Devin Smith’s 2011 freshman season was fairly unmemorable. He had 14 catches, one more than this year’s total three games into the season, and 294 yards, a mark only 61 yards higher than his current output this season.
Meyer said he was not extremely impressed with Devin Smith when he first arrived at OSU.
“I did compliment him (Tuesday) because he’s a different guy. He was nothing like this in spring ball,” Meyer said.
Devin Smith has come a long way since the spring, and even since the beginning of the season, according to Meyer.
“He had a good week. He’s one of … I just hate to say this because they turn backwards sometimes, but he’s really done a nice job. He’s a pleasant guy to be around,” Meyer said.
The high praise given to Devin Smith by Meyer this week has made the sophomore wide receiver hungrier for more success.
“Ever since (Tuesday), I’ve approached the game differently, now that (Meyer) feels I’m the best receiver on this team,” Devin Smith said.
His approach to the game now centers on what he can do to help the team apart from just catching passes.
“Just making sure I’m doing everything I can for this football team, no matter what it is – blocking, running routes, whatever it is I can do for this team,” Devin Smith said.
Smith’s approach to the game is set to be on display Saturday against Alabama Birmingham. Kickoff is scheduled for noon at Ohio Stadium.