Listed at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, L’Christian Smith doesn’t look like your typical wide receiver.
But then, when it comes to Ohio State, “typical wide receivers” need not apply.
Nicknamed “Blue” almost since birth, Smith was a First-Team All-State wide receiver last year for Wayne High School in the Dayton area. That’s the same high school that produced another atypical wide receiver in former Buckeye Braxton Miller.
For Miller, Ohio State was the only place he was ever going to end up, and the momentum is heading in that direction for Smith as well.
Smith spent Saturday on the OSU campus during the last of the Buckeyes’ three one-day camps for high schoolers. He had conversations with Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, and basically just hung out for the day.
What was his impression of Ohio State?
“Same impression I always leave here with — it’s the place to be,” he said.
“I can’t even explain it. Anybody that hasn’t been here, if you come up here, you’ll understand why it’s the place to be. Go to a football game. Trust me, it’s the place to be.”
That’s a pretty strong sales pitch from someone who isn’t even an Ohio State commitment. At least not yet.
Smith will be announcing his decision in July and is in the early stages of planning his commitment video.
“It’s going to be something big,” he said. “You’ll definitely be impressed.”
There was a time, however, when Ohio State wasn’t necessarily the place to be for him. Rumors emerged of the possibility that Smith would end up a tight end if he came to OSU, which is not something that he had any interest in doing. As Smith will tell you, when he wakes up, he’s a wide receiver. Every second of work he puts into football is to be a better wide receiver, so any talk of tight end wasn’t going to be met receptively.
Urban Meyer squashed that talk pretty quickly when the two of them spoke last month.
“When I went up there he just wanted to let me know that, ‘Wide receiver, that’s what we wanted to bring you here for,’” he said. “But it’s all about development. Say I get taller and gain a few pounds, and then I become a tight end. You never know. He gave me two plans. So if I stay this size, I’m a wide receiver. If I get bigger, I’m a tight end. That’s pretty much what he told me, so we’ll go with it.”
That conversation was a huge relief for Smith, who admitted that possibly eliminating Ohio State from contention was not easy for him.
“It was hard because coming from Ohio, of course anybody from Ohio wants to go to Ohio State,” he said. “That’s where I wanted to go growing up as a kid. When they finally offered me, I was very happy. But when the tight end stuff came out, it kind of got me mentally because as an 18-year old kid I work every day to be the best wide receiver I can, and then when somebody says, ‘Oh, you would be better as a tight end,’ that kind of makes me put my head down a little bit. But I had to learn how to get over that. I had a meeting with Coach Meyer and he told me straight up, ‘Wide receiver, that’s what we want you to play here.’”
That was all reiterated again on Saturday as Meyer spent a good amount of time with Smith walking around the practice field. This was also the first opportunity for Smith and Kevin Wilson to really talk and get to know each other.
“He’s just a down-to-earth guy,” Smith said of Wilson. “I know he means what he says. He’s not one of those guys to tell you one thing and then do another. I respect that about him.”
Smith got to spend time with much of the coaching staff, and the impressions were all very positive.
“Experienced. Experienced and they win,” Smith said of the OSU staff. “That’s what everyone wants to do, we want to win. I want to play for championships. I want to play the best competition that there is. They are that outlet to that. You’ve got experienced guys, you’ve got former head coaches on your coaching staff. You’re bound for success.”
Buckeye fans shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to find out what Smith is going to do.
“Definitely July,” he said of his commitment timeline. “I want to do it in July so I can just get it out of the way and get focused on my team and my senior year. That’s the most important thing right now for me.”
And on that eventual date in July, if you tilt your head just a bit, you might hear the rarest thing in sports — Buckeye fans actually saying, “Go Blue!”
But you’ll really have to listen.
Why Blue for L’Christian Smith?
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) June 18, 2017