Wide receiver has always been a position of much interest for me when talking about the Ohio State football team, because there is never one standout guy, but they always seem to get the job done by committee.
The Buckeyes will lose two key receivers from last season, number one receiver Corey “Philly” Brown, and impact receiver Chris Fields. This does not seem to be too big of a blow for Ohio State, though, who has a lot of depth and incoming young talent at the position.
Devin Smith, the number two receiver last season, will step into the number one role for this, his senior campaign. There will not be much pressure put on him, as this will once again be a group effort for the Buckeye wide receivers in 2014. Evan Spencer saw the field a lot last season, and should continue to see more and more playing time this year.
After Smith and Spencer, there are a lot of talented receivers battling it out for playing time. This group consists of redshirts, transfers, and freshman, so there are a lot of question marks for the Buckeyes that will need to be cleared up over the summer. Corey Smith, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College, redshirted last season, but should see a lot of the field this year. Jalin Marshall is another guy who was expected to play last year, but instead chose to redshirt because of the difficult transition from quarterback to wide receiver and some lingering injuries. A third Buckeye receiver to redshirt last season, Michael Thomas, has always performed well in spring games and then disappeared come football season. He will hope to make more of an impact for the Buckeyes this year.
Then come the complete unknowns for the Buckeye coaching staff: the transfers and freshmen. There are two of these that should be points of interest for Ohio State at the wide receiver position this season.
Jeff Greene is a transfer from Georgia Tech. He is an intriguing target for Braxton Miller because of his size. At 6-foot-5, Greene could be utilized in goal line situations, but he will need to gain Urban Meyer’s trust before he sees the field.
Johnnie Dixon is an interesting freshman talent from Florida. He graduated high school early so that he could practice with the Buckeyes in the spring. He is the type of player whose game could translate very well at the college level, and Urban will no doubt give him a fair shot a playing time this season.
My Wide Receiver Depth Chart
WR1 Devin Smith: 6-1, 197 pounds, Senior, Massillon, OH
WR2 Evan Spencer: 6-2, 208 pounds, Senior, Vernon Hills, IL
WR3 Corey Smith: 6-0, 190 pounds, RS Junior, Akron, OH
WR4 Michael Thomas: 6-3, 203 pounds, RS Sophomore, Los Angeles, CA
WR5 Jeff Greene: 6-5, 220 pounds, Junior, Peachtree City, GA
WR6 Jalin Marshall: 5-11, 205 pounds, RS Freshman, Middletown, OH
WR7 Johnnie Dixon: 5-11, 198 pounds, Freshman, West Palm Beach, FL
My Prediction: Devin Smith and Evan Spencer will be the starting wide receivers on the edge with Corey Smith lining up in the slot with his great speed. Michael Thomas will finally see playing time after disappointing fans the previous two years. Jeff Greene will gain Urban’s trust and will be used as a weapon in the red zone. Jalin Marshall will see the field sporadically, but will not settle into a consistent role with the Buckeyes until the 2015 season. Johnnie Dixon may impress the coaching staff and earn playing time this season, but I believe that it is more likely that he redshirts because of the Buckeyes’ depth at the wide receiver position.
It will be another group effort from the Buckeyes wide receivers in 2014, but they will do more than enough to help the team win.