On the Outside Looking In Suits Philly Brown Just Fine
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The life of a slot receiver is not for the weak-gutted or soft-hearted. It takes a receiver who can operate with expectations of sudden violence and still hang onto the football when those expectations are met with impeccably-thunderous timing.
Corey "Philly" Brown
Photo by Jim Davidson
With every catch from the slot comes the possibility of a linebacker who dreams of having a 180-pound receiver coming right at him with his eyes focused on something else. Danger lurks around every turn, and the only thing a slot receiver has to combat this uneasiness is his wits, his hands, and his quicks.
Last year, Philly Brown was that receiver for the Buckeyes, and he was a bit out of position while doing it. He did the best that he could, as he still led the Buckeyes in receiving (60-669), but the time has come for him to leave the slot, and he's excited to be moving on out.
"Life in the slot was fun and if Coach Meyer wants me there, then that's what I'll do," Brown said. "But going deep is fun too."
And will he miss the slot?
"No, not at all," he laughed.
Replacing Brown in the slot will be any combination of Chris Fields, Jalin Marshall, Jordan Hall, Dontre Wilson, etc. The Buckeyes are fairly deep at receiver now, and Brown can finally become the playmaker that he has been working towards all of this time.
After all, it's much easier to make plays when there aren't two linebackers bracketing you and a safety crashing down as soon as you catch a pass. Brown isn't using that as an excuse, however, and he spent the offseason working to improve his playmaking ability.
"I'm working on my open-field running in a lot of the drills and a lot of the one on ones with the DBs in the off season just to get the open-field running better," he said.
"And I'm getting in the weight room more because Coach Mick has really pushed me to get me stronger and get my weight up a little bit. It's just watching the films and going back after the season and evaluating yourself and seeing what you could have done better. Those are the areas you focus on in the off-season."
For Brown, breaking tackles has been an issue, so he added six or seven pounds to help him in that regard. For a receiver to have just 669 yards receiving on 60 catches is a tell-tale sign of a possession receiver, yet Brown is out to prove that he is much more than that.
In fact, this is something that he and receivers coach Zach Smith have been working tirelessly on.
"Philly was the first to say that however many catches that he had, the fact that he didn't have 1,000 yards receiving was a joke," Smith admitted.
"What are we talking about? He's much better than that. He's made the conscious effort to improve his body control and how quickly he changes directions, because the natural physical ability is there and it always has been. You saw that against Nebraska on the punt return and against Wisconsin on the punt return, so he did it, it just wasn't consistent.
"He knows that and he's made a conscious effort of becoming 'that guy'. He's working on it every day. He had some bad habits on how he controlled his body in open space, especially when you are carrying a football and you only have one arm to really balance yourself. It just wasn't one of his strengths. He had the ability to do it, but he needed to work on controlling his body and changing direction efficiently so that he could do it."
The move to the outside will free Brown from multiple defenders most of the time, which will allow him to put his newly-honed skills to better use.
Last season, Brown didn't stretch a defense because he was too busy living within its confines. This season, Brown plans to break free of those confines, and stress a defense in as many different ways as he can. And he's looking forward to it.
"It's fun," he said of playing on the outside. "Those are the big plays. You can also make big plays in the slot, but going deep is being able to be more versatile.
"I showed that I can play in the slot and being able to go to the outside and hopefully produce like I can, that will add a new side to my game. If my number is called I've got to make the play."
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