Playmakers emerge

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Last updated: 04/24/2012 9:09 AM

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Football
Meyer Indentifies His Top Playmakers
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If there is anything the 2011 football season proved at Ohio State, it’s that the phrase “someone is going to have to make some plays” is not always accurate.

It almost doesn’t seem possible that someone could lead a Division I football team in receiving with just 14 catches over the span of a 13-game season.

Almost.

It was actually three “someone’s” who led the Buckeyes with 14 catches apiece last season, although DeVier Posey almost caught them after missing the first 10 games of the season due to suspension (he had 12 catches in three games).

Urban Meyer seemed so shocked (and appalled?) by the fact Jake Stoneburner, Devin Smith and Corey Brown each tied for the team-lead with 14 catches that it’s surprising he didn’t reconsider his decision to take the Ohio State job after looking at the season statistics.

Senior Joe Bauserman completed just 46.5 percent of his passes over the first six games of the season—with 28 of his 40 completions coming against Akron and Toledo—before he was banished to the bench for good.

Bauserman is gone, and Braxton Miller is no longer a freshman, but that didn’t exactly calm Meyer’s nerves heading into spring practice. Maybe he feels a little better after Saturday’s Spring Game in Ohio Stadium.

Mike Thomas
Photo by Jim Davidson
Mike Thomas

“Right now (Mike Thomas) and Philly (Brown) are kind of separating,” Meyer said after watching a pass-heavy scrimmage in which his two teams combined to throw 55 passes in a 40-minute game.

“(They) are kind of our top-two guys, and Devin (Smith) is probably third. Jake Stoneburner is probably right up there at the top as well.”

Thomas, a freshman wideout who enrolled back in January, led the Scarlet team to victory with 12 catches for 131 yards Saturday. He teamed up with his buddy, Braxton Miller, all afternoon, but Philly Brown also had a nice day for the Gray Team.

The junior out of the Philadelphia area caught seven passes from backup quarterback Kenny Guiton for 90 yards in a losing effort. He wasn’t really used in a lot of the different ways Meyer and first-year offensive coordinator Tom Herman have been showing in practice, but they have to be encouraged by what they saw out of those two guys in the Spring Game.

Chris Fields also had five catches for 72 yards, while tight end Nick Vannett was another of Miller’s favorite targets. He finished with four catches for 38 yards, but neither of them ended up on Meyer’s top playmakers list from the past 15 spring practices.

“I'd have to say right now our playmakers on offense, the top five in order would be Jordan Hall, Jake Stoneburner and probably Carlos (Hyde),” Meyer said of his top three.

Corey "Philly" Brown
Photo by Dan Harker
Corey Brown

“Then you would say Philly Brown, Michael Thomas and Devin Smith. You'd also have (tight end Jeff) Heuerman right there, and some other players who are close, but those are the guys. Obviously, we need more.”

Hall and Heuerman both missed the Spring Game with injuries. Hall had emerged as a leader, and a playmaker who the Buckeyes finally plan to use in a number of different ways this fall. He injured his foot during the final week of spring practice, but the senior out of Jeannette, Pa. had already shown Meyer enough this spring.

“Jordan Hall gives us flexibility,” said Ohio State’s first-year head coach, who is also intimately involved with the offense.

“I can see him moving out and playing some H as well. He's the No. 1 candidate to fill that hybrid position that Percy Harvin made famous.”

Jordan Hall
Photo by Dan Harker
Jordan Hall

Just because Hall is going to run some of the plays Harvin ran at Florida doesn’t mean he is suddenly going to become an All-American over night. Then again, Meyer’s offense does a good job of showcasing players who bring a lot to the table.

“He brings power and speed and quickness,” said OSU running backs coach Stan Drayton.

“We’ll use him similar to Jeff Demps (at Florida), but I think we can load his plate up with maybe even a little bit more. He has natural hands and I think we’re going to use him in a bigger role.”

Hall was the No. 1 back on Meyer’s pecking order at running back after the final day of spring football, but he isn’t the only one who caught the attention of the coaching staff.

“Carlos Hyde has had a good spring as well,” Meyer added.

Hyde was the No. 2 guy behind Hall on Meyer’s pecking order, and it appears those two guys are out in front of the other two heading into summer conditioning.

The top playmaker on the team may very well be a player Meyer did not even mention. He has never been one to hide his adoration for quarterback Braxton Miller.

He just wants to make sure it’s not going to be a one-man show out there. 

 

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