Breaking Down Urban’s Depth Chart: Wide Receiver
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If there is one attribute Urban Meyer has brought to the Ohio State football program, it’s his direct nature and blunt demeanor.
Meyer is not worried about hurting feelings, and he lets that be known, even in his own locker room.
At the end of spring, Meyer released his first-ever depth chart at Ohio State. There were not many surprises in the OSU two-deep, but there was plenty to talk about.
Their first game is on Sept. 1 in Ohio Stadium. How much different will the depth chart look three months from now? We’re going to break down Urban’s first depth chart for a closer look at how things might develop over the summer and during the 29 practices in the fall.
Let’s continue with the WIDE RECEIVERS…
Photo by Dan Harker
Pre-spring pecking order: Devin Smith and Evan Spencer on the outside with Corey Brown in the slot. Chris Fields behind Brown, with Tyrone Williams and Michael Thomas in the mix outside.
With DeVier Posey in Houston going through minicamp with the Texans, Ohio State finds itself in about the same position it was in last year. Posey wasn’t available, and most of the guys behind him were lacking experience.
Not a lot changed in a year. The Buckeyes didn’t throw the ball with much (any?) success last year, and so not many of those young receivers got a lot of experience. The two big plays that standout, from a receiver standpoint, were the game-winning catch by Devin Smith against Wisconsin, and the long touchdown by Corey Brown against Michigan.
Those two guys seemed destined to be in the starting lineup this fall, even after Brown was relegated to the second-team at the start of spring camp.
Post-spring depth chart: Smith and Brown out in front, with Thomas battling Spencer for the third starting spot.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Who is missing?: The first name missing from Meyer’s post-spring depth chart is Tyrone Williams. This is a guy we weren’t sure would even be on the team by the time Meyer had coached his first practice, but Williams stuck with the program and turned in a pretty good spring, by most accounts.
He showed he can actually hang on to the football, and his unique size has to make him an intriguing option for Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman. Consistency is still the issue with Williams, along with maturity, but he is a guy who could/should be in the mix during fall camp.
Two other receivers who will join the Buckeyes this summer are incoming freshmen Ricquan Southward and Frank Epitropoulos. Southward is an intriguing prospect because of his combination of size and speed. He had a breakout senior season at Lakeland High School, and could draw some attention in the fall as a potential playmaker, depending on how quickly he learns the system.
Epitropoulos is more of a slot guy who can make tough catches and be more of a factor in the short and intermediate passing game. If he’s really built in the Dane Sanzenbacher mold, then maybe he can work his way into the rotation during camp.
More likely he is probably a year away, considering he’s behind Brown and Fields in the slot.
Susceptible to Change or Set in Stone: Susceptible to a point.
It looks like Devin Smith and Corey Brown are going to be Ohio State’s top two receivers heading into the 2012 season, but there is a lot of room for change behind those two guys. Brown is going to spend most of his time in the slot, which means there is a starting spot on the outside up for grabs this fall.
Photo by Jim Davidson
It should be an intriguing battle to watch, as Evan Spencer tries to hold off guys like Michael Thomas, Tyrone Williams and Verlon Reed, who was a starter ahead of Spencer and Smith a year ago before his ugly knee injury.
Reed should be healthy and ready to go for fall camp, and his game might just be perfectly suited for the ‘Pivot’ role being played by Corey Brown. Reed was a dynamic running quarterback at Marion High School, but the question is whether he has lost a step with the knee injury.
Overall prognosis: There is no real star amongst this group right now heading into the 2012 season, which makes sense considering no one on the team caught more than 14 passes last season.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Meyer was so concerned about this group, he had senior tight end Jake Stoneburner working with them in the spring, hoping to provide some senior leadership to a group that was severely lacking last year.
Unfortunately, Stoneburner got himself in some trouble recently, which probably doesn’t help Meyer to feel too much better about his receiving group heading into the fall. There is some potential in the group, with Corey Brown working in the ‘Pivot’ role and Devin Smith being that deep threat who can stretch the field.
Freshman Michael Thomas looked like a star in the making during Meyer’s first spring game at Ohio State, but we’ve seen that before. Spring success doesn’t always equate to fall triumph. Thomas will have to show a lot more consistency in the fall, but he is definitely a guy to watch out for.
The return of Reed (knee) and Spencer (shoulder) gives Meyer a few more playmakers at receiver, but this group has a long way to go before the head coach will have too many good things to say.
Urban's take: “It's probably the most unprepared group I've ever dealt with as far as practice. (We) have to get our passing game in order for August. That's a tall task, because it's not very good right now. If they do that, and I understand they are doing that, we have a chance. If not, no chance.”
Breaking Down the Depth Chart: Offensive Tackles
Breaking Down the Depth Chart: Tailbacks
Breaking Down the Depth Chart: Tight Ends
Breaking Down the Depth Chart: Quarterbacks
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