Thursday, August 18, 2011

THURSDAY PRACTICE BREAKDOWN: RECEIVERS HAVE UPS AND DOWNS

T.Y. Williams
AP/Terry Gilliam
COLUMBUS — The pigskin was flying around during Thursday morning's practice at Ohio State, and for a couple of young Buckeye receivers, it seemed difficult at times to haul them in.

Freshmen Devin Smith and T.Y. Williams had multiple drops throughout the morning session Thursday.

Smith — who has tremendous upside and athleticism at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds — spent most of practice being challenged by new receivers coach Stan Drayton. The former University of Florida assistant rode Smith hard during the morning session and even locked up with him during a blocking drill, where the coach — decked in shorts and a T-shirt — got the best of the youngster from Massillon.

The challenge from Drayton stoked the fire of Smith and tested his mental toughness considerably. Smith finished the day on a high note, hauling in a nice grab during scrimmage drills. Although he had perhaps his toughest day of practice as a Buckeye, Smith has still been one of the most impressive receivers on the field thus far in camp.

Williams, who also had issues most of the morning catching the football, didn't feel the wrath of Drayton as did Smith. The native of Cleveland fought through his mishaps and redeemed himself late in practice with a beautiful catch on a fade route in the corner of the end zone from senior quarterback Joe Bauserman in the two-minute drill.

It was the only touchdown the offense scored in scrimmage drills on Thursday morning.

However, Thursday's session wasn't all about redemption ... some young bucks dominated during the entirety. True freshman Evan Spencer — son of former OSU great, Tim Spencer — caught everything thrown in his direction during the morning practice.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder from Illinois played much of his reps with the second and third units, but was targeted frequently and displayed an ability to catch the football in heavy traffic. If the young Spencer can translate his prowess Thursday to the Buckeyes jersey scrimmage this weekend, the frosh could be in line for significant action this fall.

As for the starters, sophomore Philly Brown and red-shirt freshman Verlon Reed, each showed great consistency throughout practice.

Brown reminds one of a young DeSean Jackson — a quick, shifty athlete who possesses the break away speed that can put six on the board in a blink of an eye.

Reed is the blue collar, tough guy. The former Marion-Franklin (OH) star has been the man out on the edge who will do the dirty work, going into heavy traffic and moving the chains.

Despite the drops early on Thursday, the Buckeyes receiving corps. seem to be in good hands. That can be attributed to good athletes and great leadership at the top.

Coach Drayton, appears to this writer, to be an excellent mentor — a no-nonsense, passionate, teacher of the position.

He will have the inexperienced Buckeye receivers ready to make a statement early this fall.