Coaches Want Philly Brown to 'Turn It Up' in 2013
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Last season was a busy one for Ohio State receiver Corey "Philly" Brown. He finished with 37% of the team's total receptions (60) and 72% of the punt returns (18). He led the Buckeyes in both receptions and receiving yards (669), and also managed to finish sixth on the team in rushing (11-96).
Photo by Jim Davidson
However, that was just a teaser for what is expected of him this year.
As a senior, Brown is anticipating his best season ever, both on the field and off. Because of the work that he has put in over the offseason, his coaches are anticipating it as well.
"I would say that last year he was consistent in that he would do his job, do it well, and he would make 90% of the plays that presented themselves," said receivers coach Zach Smith.
"But he came into this spring with a different mentality. Not that 'I need to run this route, get open and catch the ball', because he did that last year for us. He needed to take that next step into catching that route and then turning it into something else."
"I put an emphasis on open-field running," Brown explained.
Corey Brown works to make a tackler miss during spring drills.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"You know Coach Meyer said that I can't break a tackle, so I put an emphasis on that too. Basically I've been coming out here running routes and trying to get them as precise as I can. It's really paying off right now."
Once play starts, that payoff should come in the form of catches and touchdowns, but right now it's coming in the form of a much better understanding of Urban Meyer's offense.
It's been said by many that this offense will only go as far as the receivers can take it, and coming into last year that was a frightening proposition for both Meyer and Smith. This year, however, Brown now understands what is required of him, and what is at stake if he doesn't perform his duties.
"He took those steps in the offseason," Smith said. "And he's on me constantly, texting me, 'Hey, can you have them add more film to the iPad, I've watched everything on here 20 times already?' He's hungry.
"I think the first two years of his career didn't go the way that he wanted, and last year was more of the year he felt he should've had all along, but he didn't maximize it. He didn't capitalize on those opportunities. So now he's looking at his last season where he needs to capitalize on those plays to be the player he's capable of being."
Brown is now a player who can play at any of Ohio State's four wide receiver spots, and play them well according to his coach. But it hasn't just been on-field improvements that have garnered his coach's attention.
"What he did off the field, he has that innate energy and charisma about him that can really ignite an offense," Smith said.
"He and I joke about it, but it's not really a joke, that he has the ability to just instantly turn the level of energy up on the sidelines. He'll look at me in practice and say, 'Coach, watch this, I'm gonna turn it up', and then he'll make one play and get up excited, and all of a sudden you'll have 50 dudes on offense just out of their minds with energy. So that's something that we need more consistently out of him. When you have that power and that capability, you have to use it for the good of the team. So he has it and he needs to use it to help us."
You only have to be around him for a little while to see that energy even after practice is over. After one particular practice he was asked what was different about Braxton Miller (who had a new blonde 'do') from last season, and his immediate answer was "His hair! Y'all didn't see that?"
It seems he's rarely caught in anything but a good mood. He talks friendly trash to his teammates both on and off the field. He is the type of person that teammates are drawn to, and according to Luke Fickell, that's one half of finding a leader.
"One of the big keys is when your leaders are guys that your young guys can truly follow, and they believe it, not just us," he said. "That's when you've got really good leadership, and that's what we're still trying to develop.
"Not just that leaders are leaders, but that the young ones know who to follow. There's always leaders. The key is the young guys and everybody around them believing that they're leaders. Because if they do, then they'll follow."
That's what the coaches want to see out of Philly Brown. It's something that they see quite often, but they're obviously not yet satisfied.
"I think Philly Brown can be a leader, but he’s not there yet," said offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
"It's not innate to be like that 24/7," added Smith.
"Some guys are very, very rare. Like John Simon, people that just every day they come with energy and the leadership to raise the level of play of everyone around them. I don't think that's common. The fact that he has it is great, but now it's on us to get that out of him every day, and to help him understand the power he has and to use it."
Philly Brown seems excited to accept that challenge, because he knows that it will lead to something much greater for both himself and for his team.
"If you're not being pushed, then where are you going?" he said philosophically.
Much like last year, where the Buckeyes are going depends on their wide receivers. If the coaches have their way, Brown will be instrumental in that journey. This is his last go-round, so they are expecting him to maximize the opportunities he is given. They are also expecting him to maximize his ability to bring energy to his teammates.
If you think about it, there's probably something symbolic about having a player who wears the number 10 be the guy that you use to turn things up.
But just imagine if he changed his number to 11.
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