Career Statistic Resume: Starting wide receiver from 2011-2014, 121 receptions, 2,503 receiving yards, 20.5 yards per catch, 30 touchdowns, member of the 2014 Big Ten and National Championship-winning team, 2014 Big Ten runner-up in high jump with a clear of seven feet and 1/4 inch.
People nowadays try all kinds of things to live more healthy lives. Some embark on juice cleanses. Some buy Pelotons. The younger generation streams Tik Toks.
As for me? I try to work against my proficient memory skills and forget pieces of the 2011 Ohio State season every day. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the quick summary: Luke Fickell served as the Interim Coach after Jim Tressel was fired for a tattoo-related scandal, Ohio State lost five starters to lengthy suspensions and Ohio State finished 6-7. In case that doesn’t seem devastating enough, seven losses is literally the most losses an Ohio State football team has ever suffered in a single season.
However, there is one moment I relive from that season to give myself joy and comfort. With under a minute left, the offensively inept 2011 Buckeyes actually had a chance to upset Russell Wilson’s Wisconsin team. Braxton Miller danced around the pocket, let the ball fly just before he crossed the line of scrimmage and the game winning touchdown fell into the arms of … Devin Smith? A true freshman receiver I didn’t even know was on the team prior to that play? Yeah, it was awesome in the moment and remains awesome eight years later.
If I desired, this article could just be me telling detailed anecdotes of Devin’s iconic plays. The one-handed touchdown catch against Miami, OH in 2012 was probably his best play in a vacuum. Somersaulting while hauling in a 53-yard touchdown remains underrated as Braxton Miller had really lost the ability to throw accurately in 2013. I’ve always had secret adoration for his touchdown in the 2014 Michigan State Massacre, as he burns a supposedly elite secondary by a wide margin and let’s the East Lansing crowd know what’s up with his celebration.
The best part of all of this is that I’m still missing at least 10 worthy D-Smith moments. But if I’m really trying to convince you that he’s my fifth favorite Ohio State Buckeye ever, then I need you to understand just how good he was.
The following statements are somehow both factual. Devin Smith caught 11 fewer passes in his senior season than he did in his junior season. Devin Smith finished with 271 more receiving yards in his senior season than in his junior season. I really hope you either re-read that or let out an emphatic, “Wait, what?”
For those who watched him for four years straight, that’s not a surprise. Devin had always been the deep threat, but come 2014, Ohio State literally limited his route tree to straight lines deep down the field. The man finished the year with 28.2 yards per catch and caught a touchdown on 36.4% of his receptions. Not even kids in the AAU circuit are as specialized as him.
Devin Smith’s tenure coincided with my evolution into a full-on-fanatic of Ohio State football, and watching him do his thing for four consecutive years was nothing but delightful. I can’t even remember a time I was mad at him for a boneheaded gaffe, mainly because it rarely happened with him. For a person who gets worked up very easily, a player that brings zero frustration is a wondrous thing.
I easily could have moved him even higher on this list, but ironically, his devotion to his calling card is what keeps him behind the other four. There would still be games where he was nowhere to be seen, rarely making an impact. He didn’t have a loud persona and thus connecting him with him personally became difficult. He’s my favorite Ohio State receiver ever and I’ll always love him, but the next four had a special little something that moved them into that upper echelon.
Regardless, Devin was an incredible college athlete and a joyous gift. Any other Buckeye fan that ranks him higher on their own list, please, you have my blessing.