May 8, 2013

Spring grades: wide receivers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice now in the books, we find ourselves just three months away from the opening of Urban Meyer's second fall camp as the head coach at Ohio State. With that in mind, we're taking a look back at what we've seen and learned from each position group throughout this offseason, continuing with today's look at the Buckeyes' wide receiver stable.

Spring grade: B-

The Ohio State wide receiver corps might not be the "clown show" that Meyer proclaimed it was a year ago, but it remains far from a finished product. Corey Brown emerged from the spring as the Buckeyes' undisputed No. 1 wideout, with his head coach proclaiming him to be a first-team All-Big Ten candidate.

Behind Brown, who led the Buckeyes with 60 catches in 2012, Ohio State possesses just five other scholarship wideouts on its roster, with three more expected to join when true freshmen arrive this summer. Wide receivers coach Zach Smith admitted that depth is an issue for his unit heading into fall camp, but the players who did see playing time for him this spring appear to have made the most of it.

Spring surprise: Chris Fields

An afterthought for most of his first four seasons on campus, Fields appears poised to make a name for himself heading into his senior season with the Buckeyes. The fifth-year senior-to-be was even named a starter by Meyer following the spring game, after he edged out Jordan Hall for Ohio State's H-back/slot position.

Whether or not Fields will be able to hold onto his starting spot when fall camp comes to a close remains to be seen. But his emergence as a consistent contributor can't be viewed as anything but a positive on a unit that's in dire need of some.

To be determined: Devin Smith's consistency

The Buckeyes' No. 2 receiver in 2012, Smith was all or nothing in his sophomore campaign, finishing first in touchdown receptions and second in receiving yards, despite being held to two or fewer receptions in eight of Ohio State's 12 games. That inconsistency carried over into the spring, where he managed to showcase his spectacular athletic ability, but still had a problem catching some routine passes in the Buckeyes' spring game.

Ohio State will count on Smith to show greater consistency this fall, especially with limited numbers at the wide receiver position. The junior-to-be had a propensity for showing up when it mattered most last season, but doing so even when games aren't on the line could keep his team out of such dire situations.

Looking ahead: Jalin Marshall, James Clark, Dontre Wilson

While numbers may seem slim at wide receiver on the Buckeyes' current roster, a trio of four-star prospects hope that their impact will help make up for Ohio State's lack of numbers.

Expect for Marshall and Wilson to both spend time at the aforementioned H-back spot, which is the same hybrid position that Percy Harvin helped make famous while playing at Florida under Meyer. Clark, on the other hand, is a speedster who will likely spend his time playing outside for the Buckeyes, but all three could see significant action in 2013.


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