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August 25, 2012

Predicting the Buckeyes' leading receiver

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

The football season is only a week away and it can't come soon enough for any college football fan. The Buckeyes would be one of the favorites in the Big Ten this season if they were eligible to win the league and move on, but that doesn't mean that this team and the individuals on it still can't be successful.

For the next week, the staff at BuckeyeGrove.com will be taking a stab at predicting how the 2012 Ohio State football season will play out. These predictions will include educated guesses about everything from who will lead the Buckeyes in major statistical categories to which freshmen will emerge as breakout stars. Today, we do our best to foresee who will be Ohio State's leading receiver at the end of the season.

Kevin Noon - Publisher

Jake Stoneburner will lead the Buckeyes in receptions in 2012

The easiest answer is Stoneburner and I like easy answers. Even if Stoneburner was coming from the tight end position I would expect him to be the safe pick and a favorite target of Braxton Miller. Now that he is going to be lining up in other spots as well and the Aaron Hernandez comparisons are heating up again, it really is just a no brainer to me that he will be the guy as the rest of the unit is improved but still earning their stripes.

Ben Axelrod - Lead Team Writer

Devin Smith will lead the Buckeyes in receptions in 2012

Unlike in recent years, Ohio State seems to have a coaching staff that means what it says and says what it means when it meets with the media. And no receiver has received more consistent praise from Urban Meyer and his staff this fall than Smith.

As a freshman, Smith appeared to be Miller's favorite target as he tied for the team-lead in receptions with 14. There's no reason to believe that the repertoire between the two classmates won't do anything but increase in 2012, and given the big play mindset that Meyer has brought to the Buckeyes' offense, that should make for plenty of opportunities for the speedy Smith.

Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst

Jake Stoneburner will lead the Buckeyes in receptions in 2012

Whether he's used as a wide receiver or a tight end, there is no question that Stoneburner will be a major focal point of the Ohio State offense this season. Any time you are designing special packages for a player and moving him around to create match-up problems, you aren't doing this as window dressing, you're doing it to get that player the football. I look for Stoneburner to catch approximately 50 passes this fall and be the clear team leader in receptions.

Jeremy Birmingham - Team Writer

Jake Stoneburner will lead the Buckeyes in receptions in 2012

In my twitter feed last year, I was very vocal in my clamoring for the then true-freshman Smith to become a more regular part of the Buckeye passing game for one simple reason: he can't be covered. He's always open. However, being open is not what gets a receiver receptions, as we learned a year ago when the leading pass-catcher for the Buckeyes (Corey Brown), finished the season with an absurdly low fourteen receptions. This year, the Buckeyes passing game will be sharper with an improved Miller under center, and the biggest benefactor will Stoneburner. "Stoney" will be split out wide, used out the backfield in an H-Back role as well as his traditional role as a tight end, and the commitment to creating formational mismatches for the senior - already a physical mismatch for most linebackers, safeties or cornerbacks - will yield big gains for his numbers; and ultimately his NFL stock.

Tom Levenick - Time and Change Contributor/Former Player

Devin Smith will lead the Buckeyes in receptions in 2012

I think Smith is due for a "breakout year for the Buckeyes and will lead OSU in receiving receptions and yards per catch. He will surpass 1,200 yards receiving and have 60 plus receptions. We will have a wide open offense and he will be a key factor.



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