COLUMBUS — Ohio State junior wide receiver Devin Smith created some oohs and awes last season as a sophomore, hauling in deep touchdown passes in victories against California, Michigan State and Indiana, as well as supplying the Buckeyes with one of the most outstanding catches in recent years — a miraculous one-handed TD snare in the season-opener against Miami University.
These are things OSU head coach Urban Meyer knows Smith is quite capable of, and usually doesn't praise the Buckeyes' talented pass catcher much for doing so. It's just expected of him.
"(Coach Meyer) acknowledges the good things I do ... some times," Smith said. "A lot of times he won’t because he expects that from me."
It's the dangs and darns (drops) which has garnered the most attention from Meyer and his coaching staff. They understand the rare talent Smith possesses, and they use the criticism as motivation to push him to play at the level they expect — an All-American level ... not 30 catches for 618 yards and six touchdowns.
Although not bad, Meyer feels Smith is better than those numbers, and there is no need in encouraging mediocrity for a player of his incredible talents.
"(It hurts) a little bit because I feel I’m doing way better than what I did last year," Smith said of Meyer's oft criticisms. "At the same time, he expects big things from me.
"And so do I."
OSU receivers coach Zach Smith points to that last statement as to why he thinks the native of Massillon (OH) will become the star player they all envision.
"No one is harder on Devin Smith than he is on himself," Zach Smith said. "He knows the potential of what he could achieve ... He knows the expectation now."
And the expectation is to be a star, not a circus-act, who occasionally makes the SportsCenter highlight reel.
"I just want to be making plays," Smith said. "I made a few last year, but I want to make more this year and be a guy everyone can count on. I don’t want to be remembered like, 'Oh, yeah, that one-handed catch.' I want everyone to know I can make big plays.”
Smith has some lofty goals this season ... ones that can be attributed to Meyer's approach with him.
"(Meyer) tells me I can play at the next level and compete with anybody," Smith said. "All I have to do is take the great coaching here and the sky’s the limit ...
"I felt, personally, that I played like an All-American at times (last season), and at times I played like I wasn’t," Smith said. "The one thing I’m really focusing on is I want to be an All-American.
"I want people to know that I’m a great player.
His position coach wants to work to make that happen ...
"That’s the plan over the next four months," Zach Smith said. "To get him to that elite status, because you’re not going to find a more talented guy than Devin Smith."
He and the rest of the Buckeyes will be on display this Saturday in Cincinnati, when they wrap up the spring season with the LiFESports Spring Game at Paul Brown Stadium.