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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 02/23/2011 4:43 PM

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Devin Smith Has Sights Set on Columbus in More Ways Than One
By Tony Gerdeman

Last June, Massillon's Devin Smith was in Columbus at the OHSAA State Track and Field Championships competing for, among other things, a state title in the long jump.

Smith (6'2" 175), a highly-coveted wide receiver on the football field as well, made no secret of his desire to play for Ohio State, but a scholarship offer from the Buckeye coaches had not yet been made.

He would get his shot to audition for the coaches later in the month at Ohio State's advanced summer camp for rising seniors. but before he could worry at all about football, he had some business on the track to take care of first.

Things were going well for him individually until late in the long jump competition when sophomore Josh Perry from Lewis Center, who is committed to play football at Ohio State as a linebacker, took over first place with a jump of 22'10".

With just one jump remaining, Smith had to make the most of his final opportunity. He composed and collected himself, and made a school-record jump of 23' 4 1/2". It won him the state championship, and it would not be the last time Devin Smith would shine when he absolutely had to.

Having received offers to play football from the likes of Penn State, Notre Dame and West Virginia, his future was certainly no longer in doubt--he was going to be able to play college football at a high level. Yet the one offer that he wanted above all others still eluded him.

For most high school prospects, the Ohio State senior advanced camp is the last chance they'll have to perform for the Buckeye coaches and earn a scholarship offer. For Smith, "last chances" seem to be all he needs.

Smith took the opportunity given to him and made the most of it. He was one of the best performers of the day. He felt like he had done exactly what he needed to do in order to earn an offer, but per NCAA rules, scholarship offers can't be made at the camp, so Smith would have to wait to find out if he performed as well as he thought he did.

He found out the next day. Ohio State was extending an offer to him. Once again, with everything on the line in Columbus, he had come through in the clutch when it mattered most, and a few days later, he accepted that offer and committed to the Buckeyes.

On Signing Day, Ohio State wide receivers coach Stan Drayton talked about what he saw in Smith.

"The one thing that I see and enjoy the most about him is his ability to make plays," he said.

"Any time you're looking at that position, you want a guy who can get up and make plays. You've got to be able to create some separation against defenders, and this young man does that pretty naturally coming out of high school."

Don't tell Devin Smith his ability comes naturally, because he just might correct you.

“A lot of guys say that it is natural, but to me, I don't think it's natural. I think it's from the hard work that I've put in. With track and basketball and extra lifting and running, I think my hard work helps me do that.”

It's easy to see how far his hard work has already gotten him, but he also knows that this is just the beginning. The work is on-going, and it's also something that he's preparing for.

“I'm looking forward to going down there and getting coached up," said Smith.

"They told me that I have an ability to play, so I'm going to go down there and take every coaching tip in. I'm going to go down there and try to do everything that's possible to help this team.”

As far as what the coaches are expecting from him, Drayton had a few ideas.

"He will be a nice vertical threat for us," he said. "He will be great in the redzone for us. He's long. Got long arms. He's got the ability to jump and catch."

With Dane Sanzenbacher gone, and Devier Posey suspended, the Buckeyes are going to be looking for some receivers to step up and produce. The opportunity is going to be there for everybody. It will just depend on who makes that next move.

“I plan on going down there and playing, so I've got to bust my tail in everything I do from now on,” said Smith matter-of-factly.

“I think I have the ability to play [this year], and I think they're going to make me a better football player when I get down there.”

Before that happens, there's a certain state championship that Smith plans on defending. In fact, it's that specific quest which was one of the main reasons why he decided not to graduate and enroll early.

“I've got a state title to defend," he explained.

“Coming down here and knowing everything that's going to happen is going to be great, but right now that's going to have to wait. I'm going to have to come down here and get this state title out of the way.”

Once again, Smith is putting football on the backburner for track, and this time it's to focus his senior year on a state championship in the long jump, which means he again has one last shot to come through in the clutch and prove his worth.

Given his recent past, it's probably not wise to bet against him doing exactly that.

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