When Urban Meyer took over as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, it didn’t take him very long to identify a huge issue with the team he inherited.
It took him even less time to voice his concerns to Sports Illustrated.
"The question I have is, do we have that dynamic player on offense? Where's the Ted Ginns of the world? Were they hiding [last] year? I hope we have those guys. That's a big concern of mine right now."
Five games into the 2012 season, Meyer knows that the guy he was looking for was right under his nose.
The guy he was looking for was Devin Smith.
The sophomore wide receiver from Massillon, Ohio has stepped up in a big way for Ohio State this season. Smith leads the team in both receiving yards (351) and touchdowns (four). Through five weeks, only 10 players in college football with a minimum of 18 receptions average more yards per catch than Smith (18.5).
More importantly for the Buckeyes, Smith has a knack for making big plays in even bigger moments.
It started last year during Smith's freshman season. The rangy, long-jumping athlete used his athleticism to earn a spot in Ohio State's receiver rotation, and after just two games, the first-year player was leading the team with 119 receiving yards.
Things slowed down for Smith—and the rest of Ohio State's offense—until Wisconsin visited Columbus for a primetime matchup in the 'Shoe.
It was in the waning moments of that game when Smith established himself as a game-changing playmaker. Down by three points against the favored Badgers with less than a minute on the clock, Smith ran a streak route, got open and came down with the biggest touchdown catch of the season for the Buckeyes.
So far in 2012, he has picked up right where he left off last year.
Even in Ohio State's first game against Miami (OH), it was Smith who ignited Ohio State's offense and officially kicked off the Urban era in Columbus. Trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter, Smith pulled in what could be the catch of the year to give his team a lead they would never surrender.
Two weeks later against Cal, Ohio State found themselves in a dog fight. The pesky Golden Bears had Ohio State on the ropes after clawing their way back from a 13-point second-half deficit to tie the game at 28.
With under four minutes remaining in regulation, Ohio State desperately needed someone to step up and make a play. Much like he did against Wisconsin a year ago, Smith ran a streak route and made Cal pay for their busted coverage, taking Braxton Miller's pass 73 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
And again, last week against the Michigan State Spartans, the Buckeyes found themselves down by three points and in need of a spark. And again, Smith answered the call, beating one of the nation's best cornerbacks on a deep route for a deciding 63-yard touchdown catch.
Devin Smith has played just 18 games for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and in that short time, he has changed the course of more games than most collegiate players do in their careers.
The future is certainly bright for this Buckeye.
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