New Staff Challenging Philly Brown to Harness Potential
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Watching Corey Brown carry the football as a young wide receiver out of Philadelphia, one might have thought the Buckeyes landed the next DeSean Jackson.
Corey "Philly" Brown
Photo by Jim Davidson
That would have worked out nicely in Ohio State’s new offense under Urban Meyer, which is centered around getting the ball into the hands of the team’s best playmakers.
Brown’s speed and explosiveness should put him at the top of that list, but after 11 practices, the Buckeyes are still waiting for their wide receivers to make the jump Meyer was hoping for when he took the job back in November.
“To say they've answered the call, I would say they haven't yet,” first-year receivers coach Zach Smith said after practice Saturday.
“They've improved and made more plays, but not at the level we want them to and need them to. They've done better, and they need to do a lot better before you can say they've answered his demands and my demands.”
During his recent appearance on the Big Ten Spring Football Teleconference Meyer referred to tight end Jake Stoneburner and tailback Jordan Hall as the only two playmakers who have emerged for the Buckeyes on offense this spring.
That should come as no surprise to Brown, who was just trying to fight his way back on to the first-team offense when Ohio State broke spring camp earlier this month. Some questioned how Brown landed himself on the second-team after opening last season as a starter.
It wasn’t a matter of effort or talent, according to Brown’s new position coach.
“Corey is a kid who loves football and really plays the game with a passion,” said Smith, a former walk-on receiver at Bowling Green under Meyer and the grandson of former OSU head coach Earle Bruce.
“The challenge for him was never to run faster or go harder because that kid just goes, nonstop. The challenge for him is more to harness it.”
Brown, now a junior out of Upper Darby, Pa., was a track star at Cardinal O'Hara High School. He even drew comparisons to former Florida standout Percy Harvin for the way he could make plays in space.
The 5-11, 185-pounder set the Delaware County record in the 100 and 200-meter dash, running the latter in 21.18 seconds. That time was only 0.1 seconds slower than Florida tailback Jeff Demps, a guy Meyer and Stan Drayton are very familiar with.
Brown dazzled Ohio State coaches during his first fall camp in 2010. He went on to catch eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown as a freshman, but injuries kept him from being the impact player the Buckeyes desperately needed on offense last season.
Meyer and Smith didn’t watch a lot of film from the 2011 season because they wanted to give every player a fresh start. What they did see on film with Brown was a guy who could outrun everyone, but never really looked under control on the football field.
That had to change in 2012.
“How you harness his energy, how he harnesses being a high-effort, high-energy guy and what he does with it,” Smith said of the challenge placed before Brown this spring.
“Becoming a better receiver as opposed to just a guy who goes and goes. He needs to be a better functional player, and he’s done that.”
Scarily enough, Brown’s 14 receptions were good enough to tie for the team-lead in catches last season. He had only 129 receiving yards through the first 11 games, but busted out for 76 yards and his first touchdown catch of the season in Ohio State’s 40-34 loss at Michigan.
Corey "Philly" Brown
makes a play against Michigan
Photo by Jim Davidson
Brown got behind the Wolverines’ secondary for a 54-yard score from quarterback Braxton Miller, and the new coaches are hoping he will help them stretch the field, both vertically and horizontally, in 2012.
“There was no motivation to get him to go, he’s a motivated cat right there,” Smith added.
Now they just have to turn that motivation into production.
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