Smith Eager to Make Instant Impact
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With his team trailing 7-0 in the first quarter of the North-South All-Star Classic, Devin Smith knew he needed to make a play.
The North squad had struggled to move the football against the South defense—something that would continue the rest of the day—but for one perfect moment, Smith was the best player on the field.
With Northwestern-bound cornerback Nick Vanhoose playing the underneath coverage, Smith went over the top on a post route to snag a 26-yard touchdown pass. As Smith backpedaled into the North end zone at Ohio Stadium, he was transplanted to another place in time.
“When I looked down and saw the Ohio State logo under me and felt the ball in my hands it was overwhelming,” the receiver out of Massillon Washington said.
“I looked up, and even though the stands were almost empty, I could see 105,000 fans in their seats. I felt like a Buckeye.”
The North team would not score another point in a 25-7 loss, but Smith’s day wasn’t done. He would haul in two more passes for a total of 68 yards, including a spectacular catch at the end of the game with a heavy raining coating the field.
“A lot of guys underrate me and think that I'm not that great of a football player, but my main focus was to come out here and have fun and show them I can play the game of football,” said Smith, who showed tremendous body control going up to make that catch near midfield.
“I know I can make big plays and I just wanted to show everyone what I can do because I know that’s what will get me on the field at Ohio State.”
One of two receivers in Ohio State’s class of 2011, Smith will join OSU legacy Evan Spencer on the field this fall as a true freshman. A two-time first-team all-Ohio performer, Smith had over 1,100 yards receiving last season and over 2,100 for his career.
He also hauled in 24 touchdowns for Massillon, and the 6-1, 175-pound wideout believes he will have a chance to get on the field right away for the Buckeyes because of their unsettled situation at wide receiver.
“Talking to Stan Drayton, he told me that there are spots open,” Smith said of Ohio State’s new wide receivers coach.
“It just makes me want to work even harder, knowing I have a chance to possibly play early.”
After playing the Big 33 Football Classic on June 18, Smith will arrive in Columbus for the summer with the remaining members of the 2011 class. He will only have 29 practices in the fall to show the coaches what he can do, but Smith is ready to soak up everything Drayton, Jim Tressel and the others have to teach him.
“I am looking forward (to getting) down there and getting coached up,” Smith said.
“They told me I will have the ability to play so I am going to go down there and take every coaching tip so I can help this team right away.”
Smith wears No. 9 in honor of Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin, but said his game is more of a cross between DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher. Like Sanzenbacher, Smith has developed a reputation for making tough catches, and he has the speed to turn a quick slant into a big play.
“The one thing that I see and enjoy the most about him is his ability to make plays,” Drayton said back on National Signing Day.
“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.”
That was high school, but Smith is looking forward to something bigger.
“I'm ready to go to Columbus and show everybody I can play football at any level,” he said.
“And I want to make a name for myself at Ohio State.”
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