Scouting Report: WR Corey Smith
Breaking Down Ohio State’s Latest Commit
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — One of the hottest names in Ohio State recruiting over the last week has been Corey Smith.
Not just because the 4-star wide receiver out of Akron has decided to sign with the Buckeyes on National Signing Day, but also because of the obscurity surrounding his path back to Ohio.
This was a kid who was once considered one of the top offensive players in the state of Ohio, back when he was a star wideout at Akron Buchtel High School in 2010. He originally committed to play for Tennessee, but a lot of that was due to the cloud of uncertainty that surrounded Smith and his eligibility.
Ultimately, he wouldn’t sign anywhere right of high school. The 6-foot, 185-pound receiver ended up at Grand Rapids Community College two years ago before that program was terminated after 80 years and one undefeated season in 2011.
Coach Tony Annese left to become new coach at Ferris State, and Smith ended up down at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss. He initially committed to play for Dan Mullen, one of Urban Meyer’s closest protégés, down at Mississippi State.
That was before Smith took his official visit to Columbus, and the Ohio native ultimately decided to grab Meyer’s offer to come back home and wear the scarlet and gray. Because he’s a JUCO kid, Smith will only have three years to play two, which means Meyer and his staff will be looking for every reason to get him on the field as a newcomer in 2013.
But what type of player is Corey Smith? What does he bring to the table that could allow him to leapfrog guys like Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas and Frank Epitropolous for a spot in the wideout rotation come September?
We decided to ask a couple guys with a lot better understanding of who Smith is and what type of player the Buckeyes are getting in this well-traveled wideout from Ohio.
“This kid is the real deal, in my opinion. I might put him on the same level as a Devin Smith with probably better concentration on catching the ‘routine’ passes,” said Ken Pryor, an Ozone contributor and receivers coach at North Point High School in Waldorf, Md.
Coach Pryor had the chance to see Smith play live when he was still at Akron Buchtel High School back in 2010.
“The game that really sticks out in my mind was a state playoff game against Marlington (Alliance area),” Pryor said.
“The kid was uncheckable deep. He seemed to run good routes and he didn't drop a thing that night. But the thing that really caught my eye was his ability to catch deep balls IN TRAFFIC.”
Smith scored a 60-yard touchdown on Buchtel’s first play from scrimmage in that Div. III State semifinal game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Smith “put on a show” on the Griffin’s second touchdown drive.
Smith would also score another touchdown in the third quarter on a 15-yard pass from Parker as Buchtel demolished Marlington – a team that was led by current Michigan commit Dymonte Thomas – by a score of 52-8.
“He caught a couple deep balls while being well-covered, but he came down with the pass anyway,” Pryor said.
“He seemed very confident with swagger but not overly arrogant. He seemed to have pretty good speed too, but that was against Marlington, so I don't know that they had the necessary players to really challenge him.”
Smith’s high school nickname was Magic Man because, according to his coach, he ran routes that high school defensive backs simply could not cover.
“When I saw him play, I really liked him,” longtime Ohio talent evaluator John McCallister told The-Ozone.
“I think he's got the receiver swagger, excellent hands – now this is back then – he can make plays, and he had really good speed. I don't know if he's a “burner” burner, but he's fast enough and he separated really well.”
McCallister is a former high school football coach and English teacher who has been scouting football talent across the state of Ohio since the late 1980s. He remembers a kid who could bring a lot to the table at Ohio State.
“I thought he was really a tough competitor,” McCallister added. “He just had a good wide receiver mentality: tough, swagger, could catch, and he wanted the ball.”
Smith wanted the ball so badly at Grand Rapids Community College, he actually got himself suspended for half of a football game because he was angry about not seeing enough action in the first two games of the season.
“I’m humbling myself, because at the beginning, I was expecting to get the ball a lot like I did in high school,” Smith told The Grand Rapids Press during the 2011 season.
“I got in trouble, and had to sit out a half, but I texted my receivers coach and told him that I was going to go 110 percent all the time and give my best effort all the time.”
Smith said that experience really helped him to grow up and become a better teammate. He would go on to catch 28 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns in nine games this season. GRCC coach Tony Annese would eventually call him the “consummate team player” after that initial incident.
He also called Smith a “game breaker.”
“I could really see him challenging guys like Evan Spencer, Mike Thomas, and Frank Epitropolous for clock burn at the outside receiver position,” Ken Pryor added.
“I could see this kid coming in and being a factor right away.”
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