Ohio State wide receivers caught just 65 passes as a group a last year—dead last in the Big Ten.
To put that in perspective, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State and Northwestern each had one wide receiver catch more than 65 passes.
To put it mildly, that will simply not be good enough this season. Not with Urban Meyer under the helm.
With DeVier Posey suspended for the first ten games of the season, Devin Smith was the leading receiver for the Buckeyes in 2011. His statistics? A not exactly mind blowing 14 catches for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Posey has since moved on to the NFL, leaving the Buckeyes’ receiving corps as its largest question mark for the 2012 season.
There are no senior wide receivers on the roster, so Corey “Philly” Brown and Chris Fields are the veterans of the group as juniors. I use the term “veterans” lightly here, though, as Brown has just 14 catches in his OSU career and Fields has just 11. So, who steps up this season for the Buckeyes?
There are proven playmakers at the other positions on the field, except for wide receiver.
Tight end Jake Stoneburner will likely be the favorite target for sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. Versatile tight ends seem to have a certain niche in Meyer-coached offenses, and Stoneburner is just that. Stoneburner, though, is currently suspended after being arrested roughly three weeks ago for obstructing official business, but many say that Stoneburner will not miss any games.
Running back Jordan Hall will also be used in a variety of ways by Meyer. But, Hall recently suffered a foot injury that will cause him to miss roughly 10 weeks, and potentially three games of the regular season.
But Miller will need some help from the wide receivers, too.
Smith seems to be the leading candidate to be the number one this year. He has that big play ability (exhibit A), good hands and deep threat speed. If he can further develop this season, he can be a key weapon for Miller.
Don’t be surprised if you hear the name Michael Thomas a lot this year. Thomas, just a freshman, was the best receiver on the field during the spring game, catching 12 passes for 131 yards, as many Buckeye fans left the stadium encourage by what they saw from the young wide out. Although he is not currently listed as a starter, I fully expect Thomas to be a starting wide receiver at some point this season, and he could be a great weapon for years to come.
Brown is an interesting player for the Buckeyes. He has good speed and vision (he was a high school running back), but he does not have great hands and simply drops too many balls. If he can correct this issue, he could also be a solid contributor to this team.
Evan Spencer is another young receiver that showed the ability to make a highlight reel catch in just his first collegiate game. Spencer, the son of great former OSU running back Tim Spencer, appeared in ten games last season as a true freshman.
There are a lot of question marks surrounding this 2012 group of wide receivers for OSU. None of them have much, if any, experience. And because of that, no spot is guaranteed. So, hopefully, that will cause them to bring the best out of each other, surprising us all.
Whatever the case may be, the wide receivers are going to need to step up, or it will be a long year for #5.