Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is known for having uncompromising standards for his players, and he sometimes can make pointed statements about how they’re falling short.
Those assessments aren’t always easy take.
Junior receiver Devin Smith thought he was having a solid spring until hearing Meyer characterized it as being an up-and-down showing.
Asked if that critique hurt, Smith said: “A little bit because I feel I’m doing way better than what I did last year. At the same time, he expects big things from me — and so do I.”
Smith made 30 catches in 2012 and led all receivers with 669 yards and six touches. One of his TD receptions was a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone in the season-opener against Miami that was an ESPN top play and became a YouTube sensation, even getting a shout-out on Twitter from LeBron James.
His lack of concentration has surfaced, though, with occasional drops.
On his role this season, Smith said: “Just making plays. I made a few last year, but I want to make more this year and be a guy everyone can count on. I don’t want to be remembered like, ‘Oh, yeah, (he made) that one-handed catch.’ I want everyone to know I can make big plays.”
His coaches believe he has it in him, although they want to see it on a more consistent basis.
“He’s not where he needs to be — where I want him to be, where he’s a capable of being — but he’s light years ahead of where he was,” receivers coach Zach Smith said. “That’s the plan over the next four months — to get him to that elite (category) because you’re not going to find a more talented guy than Devin Smith. He’s got to take his game to the next level.”
The receivers can’t afford to be complacent. The Buckeyes have moved running back Jordan Hall to the hybrid slot position, and the 2013 recruiting class is loaded with play-makers, including Jalin Marshall of Middletown.
“Jalin is just another phenomenal athlete that we plan on using and adding to the dynamic of our offense,” Zach Smith said. “We’re excited about him and can’t wait to get him here.”
New twist: After lining up exclusively in shotgun formation for the Buckeyes’ spread offense last season, quarterback Braxton Miller has been taking some snaps under center during the spring.
But while offensive coordinator Tom Herman didn’t want to give the reasons behind the added wrinkle, he was emphatic in pointing out it has nothing to do with getting Miller ready for the NFL, which still favors traditional drop-back passers.
“I remember the (2011) draft class with Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder and Jake Locker,” Herman said. “The top five quarterbacks taken were all spread guys. … I can argue until I’m blue in the face. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it. If you don’t, you don’t.
“Offense in college has nothing to do with getting you prepared for the NFL. Is it a different game? Yeah. But if you’re good enough, they’ll find you.”
First impressions: The Buckeyes have plenty of depth at cornerback, and two early enrollee freshmen, Trotwood’s Cam Burrows and Eli Apple of New Jersey, are making a bid for playing time.
“Love ‘em,” cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said of the duo before listing their attributes. “Long, play hard, serious.
“(They’re) not prepared — wouldn’t expect them to be. They should be getting ready to go to the prom. They never practiced like this. … It’s like a shock wave that keeps coming and coming and coming. But they’re handling it. And I’m giving them no slack because in the fall, there will be no slack. We have every expectation they’re going to play in the fall. That’s why they’re here.”
OHIO STATE SPRING GAME
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Paul Brown Stadium
TV/Radio: Big Ten Network (7 p.m. tape delay)/none
Tickets: Available through Ticketmaster or at stadium on game day